Karl Check, Mentor

Group Manager Sustainability, Vector Ltd

I’ve been involved in sustainability for 12 years, and climate has been at the forefront of the work I’ve done — stuff like emissions reduction, footprinting and the carbon intensity of products and activities. Recently, I’ve moved into a more strategic space looking at economic modelling and understanding the levers we have to pull in the economy to get to net Carbon Zero. I’ve been involved in a lot of the legislative changes, including submissions to the productivity commission, so I have a pretty well-rounded knowledge of sustainability.

Rollercoaster ride

On an average day, I go from feeling complete anguish about climate change to feeling hopeful because, in the past civilisation has managed to make significant leaps when faced with extreme adversity. We’ve managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and come out the other side. Hopefully, we can do it again.

At the same time, I’ve got three young kids, and when I think about the kind of world they might be forced to live in I think, ‘what the f***?’ Most of the time, I carry a little bit of fear around with me, but that’s why I’m here.

We’re here to talk about climate

This is my first time in a mentor role. I’m more of a climate and carbon expert, but I’ve enjoyed learning about business models and validating an idea. I’m a big listener, but I’m also keen to challenge the participants and remind them that what we’re here to talk about is climate.
A few of the ideas may not necessarily have a strong climate focus on them, so that creates a healthy tension to some of the conversations I’ve had with the teams.

Some of these ideas may have some positive benefits around climate change, but the situation is so urgent that we can’t afford any distractions. I’m trying to get people to focus on the purpose and intent of their idea. Climate, climate, climate, for me, is what it all boils down to.

Building a movement

By the end of the event, I hope we’ve done enough to convince the Climate Leaders Coalition that this event has got legs. We need to create a movement, and we need to build on this event.
We’re arming people with some real knowledge, tools and processes to take back to their workplace. They’ve got passion and some good ideas, but they may not have the tools to take those ideas any further. Hopefully, this event will give them the confidence to inspire change in their organisations.

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