Profile: Cate Blanchett

Profile: Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett, who has found herself in the midst of a climate change row after appearing in a TV commercial, paid for by environmental groups, is calling on Australians to back a tax on carbon, urging her fellow citizens to finally do something about climate change. “I think when you put your name to anything –  when you stand up for something that is of national importance as the price on pollution is – then you have to expect people on the other side of the debate to say negative things.”

Note from the editor:

Cate Blanchett’s green credentials are very clear to many and particularly me. She rated a paragraph and a photo or two in my book “The ABC of Carbon” (see below) and I have reported her words and deeds before in abc carbon express. She was voted No 1 as the most influential person in Australia for climate change action and awareness in our first ABC Carbon 5O in 2009, and included again in 2010, when we didn’t put a number to the name. She was a star attraction at the Copenhagen World Business Summit on Climate Change.We are also well aware on the influence Cate has had on the green and sustainable policies for the Sydney Theatre Company, which she and husband Andrew Upton run as joint Artistic Directors. See article below. We are very sure many others in business, the arts, NGOs the community and maybe even politics, value her views and example. Maybe it rubs off on to other film stars and film makers, theatre companies and sponsors. Maybe it is too much to hope for, but wouldn’t it be good if a few business leaders and other well-known identities, with or without the drawing power of Cate, were prepared to put their name and reputation to such an important cause as recognising the reality of climate change and making polluters pay for the damage their doing to the country, the planet and the atmosphere. – Ken Hickson

Add extract from book The ABC of Carbon

Blanchett, Cate. Celebrities are known to associate with causes the world over, but when a star of the calibre of Cate Blanchett puts her name to something, it somehow means more. She believes it. The award-winning Australian actress identified with the WWF’s organised Earth Hour in Sydney in March 2007 and spoke eloquently on the topic of climate change at the launch of ‘Who On Earth Cares’, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s online campaign that brings together Australians who want to combat climate change. But it’s her actions that speak louder than words. Blanchett admits that she has reduced her driving to 20 kilometres less per week, switched to green household power and installed a water-efficient shower head and shower timer. Accompanied by ACF director Don Henry at drought-ravaged Lake Samsonvale, north of Brisbane in August 2007, Blanchett urged Australians to support the campaign. See what Cate and others are doing to reduce their emissions and make a difference. Source:

Information from Sydney Theatre Company

Greening the Wharf:

Over the last 12 months we have been making significant changes to The Wharf as well as our habits and behaviour in order to reduce our impact on our environment. 

Sydney Theatre Company’s home, The Wharf at Pier 4/5, is fast becoming a living example of how all buildings – even heritage ones – can be made more sustainable. We now draw energy from the sun, reduce the waste leaving The Wharf to landfill and will soon be collecting precious rainwater from our roof.

In November 2010, our Artistic Directors, Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett turned on the second largest roof-top photovoltaic array of solar power in Australia on our roof. This allows STC to derive the majority of its required energy from renewable sources.

Construction has also begun on our innovative Rainwater Harvesting System which will store water in a huge pipe suspended beneath the pier’s structure. When completed, it will provide 100% of the non-potable water required for use by all arts organisations on Pier 4/5.

The changes to infrastructure are only a small part of our greening transformation. We have been working with staff, creative teams and guest artists to ensure that Sydney Theatre Company and Walsh Bay will, over time, become recognised as a world-leading sustainable creative precinct.

The Greening The Wharf project is supported by the Federal Government’s Green Precincts Fund, NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change’s Public Facilities Program, three private gifts from Cameron and Ilse O’Reilly, Peter Hall and Laura Smith, and David and Claire Paradice, support from our Energy Advisor Ausgrid, as well as donations from STC supporters and a range of other sponsors and partners including KPMG

Renewable Energy

Our rooftop solar array is now generating power from 1,906 advanced Suntech Pluto solar cell technology developed by the University of NSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy.  The solar power system, coupled with the Company’s drive towards energy-efficiency, will provide up to 70% of STC’s electricity needs.

This project has been made possible by an A$2 million donation from the Shi Family Foundation, representing Dr Zhengrong Shi and Mrs. Vivienne Shi. A renowned photovoltaic scientist, Dr Zhengrong Shi is the founder and CEO of Suntech Power, the world’s leading producer of solar panels. He studied at the prestigious School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), with which Suntech maintains a long-term solar research partnership. Other support has been provided by Tropman and Tropman heritage architects.

Reducing Waste at The Wharf

We’ve now installed streamed waste bins at The Wharf. With support from the Packaging Stewardship Forum of the Australian Food and Grocery Council we’ve been able to invest in new bins for all public and back-of-house areas.

These bins separate waste into three streams: mixed paper, mixed containers and general waste. The Packaging Stewardship Forum (PSF) represents the interests of Australia’s major beverage manufacturers and their packaging suppliers and works with organisations across Australia to reduce littering and increase recycling.

Our aim is to reduce levels of waste sent direct to landfill from The Wharf and we hope to recycle up to 8 tonnes of recyclable drink containers each year. We have worked with the PSF and our sponsor, Veolia, to measure our performance. So please ensure when visiting the Wharf that all recyclable items go into the correct waste bin.

You might not realise that the plastic water cups used in the Wharf Restaurant are recyclable and they should be placed in the cup bank or mixed containers bin after use.

The Wharf Restaurant is now also making an effort to separate the small amount of organic waste it produces daily and a percentage of this is being directed for use on the farm of Chef, Aaron Ross.

Reducing Water Consumption at The Wharf

Late in 2009 the STC’s public bathrooms that serve patrons for Wharf 1, Wharf 2 and the Restaurant and Bar received a long-overdue make-over. The good news is that not only did we stylishly renovate the bathrooms and increase the number of toilets for women, but we also upgraded all fittings to the very latest WELS 6 Star rated water saving fittings with the help of our friends at Caroma.

This was the first and largest step in reducing water usage throughout The Wharf in advance of the installation of our rainwater harvesting and reticulation system.

Making STC Productions More Sustainable

In line with international best practice, over the last twelve months we have implemented our Green Design Policy. This challenges designers working on productions at Sydney Theatre Company to consider the environmental impact of their designs and to work to reduce the overall waste a production generates. This is already informing our 2011 productions. The set of ZEBRA! was made predominantly from recycled timber sourced from our own workshop as well as local salvage yards. The grey-water captured from the set of Baal is collected and used to water parks around the city.

Upgrades have also been made to equipment used in the production department, and throughout the company. Just by purchasing greener equipment, we will cut our energy consumption and carbon emissions by around 24%.

Theatre is a conspicuous user of energy through the lighting of productions. Early in the greening process, we identified the need to investigate ways to limit the environmental impact of its theatrical lighting systems.  For months we researched the latest technologies and explored alternative light sources. In addition to upgrading older and less environmentally sound lighting stock, we have also purchased a range of low-energy, fluorescent and LED theatrical fixtures which we encourage our lighting designers to use. These help lighting designers stay within our new wattage caps for each production, representing a 40% decrease from existing capacity.

Education and Advocacy Plan

Now that we have put some of our own changes in place, we feel in a position to share what we have learned with our precinct neighbours, to our creative industry colleagues, to our corporate and government supporters, and to the broader Australian and international community.

On Open Day, we opened our doors to the company and lead a discussion on ‘How the Arts Can Lead on Climate Change’. We regularly present forums and discussions on the subject (including The Wentworth Talks) and we regularly update the Sydney Theatre Company Blog with information not only about the changes happening within our company, but with information on sustainability from around Australia and the world.

We are also working with our Education department to ensure that the messages of Greening the Wharf aren’t lost on our audiences of the future.

Next time you’re at the theatre, make sure you check out our Sydney Theatre Company Green Screens (launching June 2011) which give you a comprehensive and interactive behind-the-scenes look at the various changes taking place at The Wharf. 

We will continue to share our transformation with you on this website. In the coming months you will be able to look through case studies, videos, images and industry advice that will chart the journey of Greening The Wharf to date as well as provide insight into what lies ahead. We hope this will provide a resource to other our creative industry colleagues, to schools and Universities, to our supporters, and to the broader Australian and international community on this unique project.

To view our Greening The Wharf blog click here.

Interested in The Wentworth Talks?

Since 2010, we have been joining with the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists to present The Wentworth Talks, a series of free bi-monthly presentations and panel discussions at The Wharf led by guest speakers addressing a wide range of topics relating to climate change and the environment.

For more information on the next  Wentworth Talk please click here.

Interested in a Greening The Wharf bag?

We have produced a special reusable shopping bag, with proceeds going towards the Greening The Wharf program. Made with 100% recycled materials, the bag is 100% biodegradable and is now available to purchase for $12 by visiting The Wharf Box Office. For each bag sold, $5 will go directly to Greening The Wharf.

Interested in Greening Your Own Home Base

We’re passionate about our Greening the Wharf program because it will significantly reduce the energy and water that STC draws from the city’s supply and decrease the amount of waste that is sent to landfill from The Wharf. By setting an example through Greening the Wharf we want to encourage everyone – individuals and businesses – to think about the practical actions that they can take to act intelligently with regard to water and energy consumption in order to address climate change.


 Alison Rourke in, (30 May 2011):

Cate Blanchett appears in an ad funded by pro-climate action groups, urging fellow Australians to ‘finally’ do something about climate change.

Cate Blanchett has found herself in the midst of a climate change row after appearing in a TV commercial calling on Australians to back a tax on carbon.

The advert, paid for by environmental groups, says it is time to tax big polluters and finishes with the Oscar-winning actor urging her fellow citizens to “finally” do something about climate change.

The conservative opposition leader, Tony Abbott, lambasted the advert. “People who are worth $53m have a right to be heard – but their voice should not be heard ahead of the ordinary working people of this country,” he said.

Blanchett lives in a multimillion- dollar Sydney mansion which, according to local media, has been decked out with the latest solar technology. As artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company she has also sought to make the theatre greener, installing solar panels that provide up to 70% of its power.

The prime minister backed the advert and Blanchett’s right to appear in it. She told Abbott: “Conservatives like David Cameron have had the foresight to say to their people climate change is real. I believe that; David Cameron believes that. The opposition leader does not.”


1 June 2011 AFP & AP

SYDNEY – Hollywood star Cate Blanchett Tuesday defended her decision to front a campaign promoting the Australian government’s carbon tax, saying she backed action on climate change for her children’s sake.

Dubbed “Carbon Cate” by the Sunday Telegraph, the actor was attacked as being a jet-setting, multi-millionaire who was out of touch with ordinary Australians who fear a rise in the cost of living from a price on carbon.

“I’m not really surprised by the reactions from people on the other side of the debate. People are entitled to their opinion,” said Blanchett, who was dismissed in one comment piece as “just another morally vain Hollywood star”.

The Oscar-winning actor, who has three young boys with husband Andrew Upton, said there was a cost to society from carbon pollution, and this was what she was passionate about as a mother.

“That’s where it gets me in the gut,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald. “I can’t look my children in the face if I’m not trying to do something in my small way and to urge other people.

“Yes, I’ve been fortunate in my career but that’s no reason not to stand up for something that I deeply believe in.”

Blanchett’s star role in the new television campaign, which is funded by a coalition of unions and green groups and urges Australians to “Say Yes” to a tax on carbon, has become a national talking point in the climate debate.

Australians are among the world’s worst per capita carbon polluters and Gillard has proposed a tax to be levied on major industrial polluters by July 1, 2012, with plans for a full emissions trading scheme in three to five years.


Herald Sun

1 June 2011

OSCAR-winning actress Cate Blanchett has defended her appearance in a controversial pro-carbon tax advertisement which has sparked political and community debate.

“My personal support of a price on carbon to make the polluters, not the punters, pay is very much based on a comprehensive package of support for lower income earners to make the transition to a low carbon economy possible and not hurt them in their hip pocket,” she told Sky News.

“I think when you put your name to anything when you stand up for something that is of national importance as the price on pollution is, then you have to expect people on the other side of the debate to say negative things and they’re absolutely entitled to their opinion,” she said.

The millionaire Hollywood actress has been accused of being out of touch by promoting the benefits of the tax that she can afford to pay, unlike many hard-up Australians.

The 42-year-old teamed with actor Michael Caton to be the face of a series of television ads branded “Say Yes,” which began screening nationally from Sunday.

The ads – funded by a coalition of green groups and unions – are aimed at convincing the average Australian that a carbon tax is a good idea and urging them to “unite” behind putting a “price on pollution” despite the impact on the cost of living.

As well as defending her appearance in the advertisement today, Blanchett argued it was time for greater political leadership on the issue after Liberal leader Tony Abbott accused the government of listening to film stars over ordinary Aussies.

Blanchett brushed aside Mr Abbott’s critique and said her support for a carbon price was conditional upon a comprehensive support package being provided to lower income earners.

The government’s plans to introduce a fixed price on carbon for a three-to-five-year period starting in July 2012, followed by an emissions trading scheme, have proved controversial.


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