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The Superpower Institute: Recommendation

Last updated in 2024.

Giving Green recommends The Superpower Institute as one of Australia's most effective organisations combating climate change. Their theory of change is compelling, and their staff holds uniquely strong expertise. We are further excited by the thought leadership it has built popularising Australia as a renewable energy superpower. 

The Superpower Institute aims to help Australia seize the extraordinary economic opportunities of the post-carbon world while allowing Australia to become a major player in climate globally. 

The Superpower Institute has an ambitious plan for accelerating Australia’s development into a major exporter of renewable energy and green industrial products. In addition to mitigating domestic emissions, which make up approximately 1% of global emissions, The Superpower Institute’s approach may also provide Australia with an opportunity to decarbonise up to 7% of global carbon emissions. If successful, this approach would deliver significant economic benefits coupled with significantly higher levels of impact on climate change than could be achieved under any domestic strategy. The Superpower Institute reports a funding gap of $1.5 million AUD and would invest additional funds in expanding its research and policy work. 

For more information, see our deep dive research report and a summary below.

What is The Superpower Institute?

The Superpower Institute is an Australia-based nonprofit focused on accelerating Australia’s transition to a renewable energy "Superpower" – a major green energy and green industrial exporter. Through this approach, Australia could do more than just reduce its own domestic emissions; it could play a globally important role in addressing climate change.

The Superpower Institute was launched in 2022 by two of Australia’s most respected economists, Ross Garnaut AC and Rod Sims AO. Ross Garnaut was Senior Economic Adviser to Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Australia's ambassador to China, and led the Garnaut Climate Change Review in 2007 and 2010. This review was the most comprehensive economic modeling project on climate change ever undertaken in Australia at the time. Garnaut has also had significant influence shaping Australian climate dialogue through his research and his books, ‘Superpower: Australia’s Low-Carbon Opportunity’ and ‘The Superpower Transformation: Building Australia's Zero-Carbon Future’. Rod Sims is another of Australia’s premiere economists. Sims was the longest-serving chair of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission in the agency's history.

How could The Superpower Institute help address climate change?

The Superpower Institute aims to combat climate change by producing policy research and by engaging in public policy and evidence-based communication. It focuses on approaches to decarbonising Australian heavy industry exports, which comprise a high portion of Australia’s emissions profile. We believe this approach is the most impactful area of work in the Australian climate space. The Superpower Institute’s research and policy work can also play an integral role in accelerating the development of green industry across Australia.

What does The Superpower Institute do?

The Superpower Institute engages in practical research and policy advising, with a specific focus on addressing climate changes in high-impact ways while unlocking significant opportunities across the Australian economy. The Superpower Institute researches and designs regulatory settings and market incentives needed to make Australia to become a leader in green energy and associated industries. The Superpower Institute provides in-depth economic analysis and policy insights to Federal Government through advisory work, policy proposals, and research reports. 

What evidence is there of The Superpower Institute’s effectiveness?

While The Superpower Institute is a fairly new organisation, with only a short time to develop a track record, they are gaining steady traction. Already, The Superpower Institute has assisted the South Australian Government in developing a roadmap which can help the state play a major role in building the zero-carbon world economy. The South Australian Government is already taking action to implement plans in this direction. And while The Superpower Institute’s work on a National Emissions Monitoring Roadmap, which could be implemented by Federal Government, is still in its early stages, this work has already received significant praise from organizations such as the Climate Change Authority (a Federal Government agency) and the Sunrise Project.

In addition, The Superpower Institute’s founders have had significant influence in the past on climate policy, climate projects, and climate dialogue in Australia. Garnaut played a critical role in the development of the Hornsdale Power Reserve, also known as the South Australian ‘Big Battery’. When it was built in 2017, this battery was the world's first large-scale lithium-ion battery storage system, and it was one of the largest climate projects to go ahead in Australia that decade. Garnaut also coined and popularized the concept of Australia as a ‘Renewable Energy Superpower’ through his books and reports. Experts we interviewed cited Garnaut as integral to the development and dissemination of this idea, and they cited the significant impact of these ideas on federal policy. The current Australian government has also incorporated the term "renewable energy superpower" in its 2023 Federal Budget, indicating its alignment with this vision and the growing influence of Garaut’s and the Superpower Institute’s proposals.

What would The Superpower Institute do with your donation?

Donating to The Superpower Institute will contribute to expanded research and policy impacts. Specifically, in the short term, they will likely focus on proposals such as the National Emissions Monitoring Network—a powerful enabling feature for developing green industry in Australia and for the successful operation of Australia’s Safeguard Mechanism. The Safeguard Mechanism is a major policy implemented by the Australian Government, similar to a carbon credit scheme, that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from major companies. 

Longer-term policy work will focus on the design and implementation of policy architecture that will support Australia’s rapid transition to green industry for export, including the correction of market failures; accounting for externalities; and encouraging innovation to develop export markets for zero-carbon commodities where Australia has a comparative advantage, such as green aviation fuel, green fertiliser, green iron, green aluminum, and green silicon.

Why is Giving Green excited about The Superpower Institute?

The Superpower Institute supports the development of Australia into a major exporter of renewable energy and green industrial products. It plans to significantly accelerate the development of green industry in Australia - an approach that is strategic, large-scale, economically beneficial, and informed by some of the nation’s most renowned economists. The Superpower Institute's team offers unique expertise in climate, economics, and other fields. We think The Superpower Institute’s theory of change is compelling and that the organization is earning its position as a future leader in the Australian climate space. 

Donate to The Superpower Institute to advance Australia’s climate superpower: using our domestic resources to decarbonise the globe.

Giving Green is part of IDInsight Inc., a charitable, tax-exempt organization. This is a non-partisan analysis (study or research) and is provided for educational purposes.

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