Atlassian Gets Political With Renewable Energy Push

Mike Cannon-Brookes, Atlassian co-founder and co-CEO

Australian tech darling Atlassian, makers of developer tools such as Jira, Bitbucket, and Bamboo, has joined the RE100 initiative with a commitment to obtain all of its electricity from renewable sources globally by 2025.

“It’s important to set an example,” says co-founder and co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes. “We want other Australian companies to follow suit.”

Mike Cannon-Brookes, Atlassian co-founder and co-CEO
Mike Cannon-Brookes, Atlassian co-founder and co-CEO

Atlassian is just the third Australian company to make the RE100 pledge, with the Commonwealth Bank and Bank Australia the only other Australian companies listed as members. Atlassian joins other well-known technology companies such as Microsoft and Google that signed on some time ago. Microsoft achieved its 100% renewable energy goal in 2014, and Google in 2017.

Cannon-Brookes says that the decision is completely aligned with creating shareholder value, and doesn’t require altruism on the part of company leaders. Beyond the likely savings in becoming more energy efficient, Cannon-Brookes cites the war for talent as a major motivating factor for Atlassian.

“We want to be known as a good company to work for,” he says. Potential hires often comment on Atlassian’s reputation for being socially responsible as a major factor influencing their decision of where to work, according to Cannon-Brookes.

The renewable energy announcement also comes at a contentious time in local Australian politics, where renewable energy is a headline-grabbing topic in a country that still generates most of its electricity with coal-fired power stations.

“We’re a resource economy. We’re really good at resource extraction,” says Cannon-Brookes. “It would be great if the Minerals Council of Australia could see the sun and wind as resources they way they do coal.”

He laments the lack of lobbying power that renewable energy and technology companies have. “The fossil fuel industry has had an eighty year head start,” he says and is seemingly determined to build a more effective lobbying effort around modern technologies.

Cannon-Brookes successfully challenged Elon Musk to bring Tesla’s large-scale battery technology to Australia in 2017, which was, at the time, the largest lithium-ion battery in the world. He has also been outspoken on a range of controversial legislation affecting the local tech industry.

But rather than wait for the Australian Federal government to come to the party on renewable energy, Cannon-Brookes is focused on encouraging other business owners to embrace renewable energy. “There are lots of business owners who have solar on their roof at home,” he says. “But they haven’t actually thought about doing it at work or in their business.”

“It’s an awareness thing,” he says.

This article first appeared in here.