Profile: Graeme Wood
Businessman Graeme Wood, who committed millions of his own money to the Global Change Institute and the Beyond Zero Emissions plan for 100% renewable energy by 2020, has condemned Australia’s failure to act on climate change, criticising ”scared” politicians for a lack of leadership. His comments come as the government is sticking to its target of a minimum 5% reduction in emissions by 2020, unless international agreement emerges from climate talks under way in Cancun, Mexico.
December 4, 2010 in the Sydney Morning Herald
THE businessman Graeme Wood has condemned Australia’s failure to act on climate change, criticising ”scared” politicians for a lack of leadership.
Mr Wood, one of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs whose wealth the BRW Rich List estimates at more than $372 million, is a co-founder of Wotif.com.
He said the former prime minister Kevin Rudd was right when he called climate change ”the greatest moral, economic and environmental challenge of our generation”.
”I see climate change as exactly what Kevin Rudd said it was, and see nothing happening about it. The system is in gridlock.”
Privately, Mr Wood was the biggest donor to the advocacy group Beyond Zero Emissions, which has published a costed plan to shift Australia to a 100 per cent renewable energy supply within a decade.
”It’s the only clear plan that’s been put out as an alternative to fossil fuels, which challenges all the accepted wisdom about the rate at which we could go to renewables,” Mr Wood said.
A well-known philanthropist, Mr Wood has committed another $300,000 to follow up work by Beyond Zero, including plans on land-use change and transport, and hopes to obtain more donations.
Mr Wood’s comments come as the government is sticking to its target of a minimum 5 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020, unless international agreement emerges from climate talks sponsored by the United Nations and under way in Cancun, Mexico.
”Our two major political parties are between them the worst combination to get things going,” he said. ”You’ve got Tony Abbott and his neanderthals and Martin Ferguson still stuck in last century.
”Our politicians are scared of everything. We don’t elect them to be scared, we elect them to lead. They are like rabbits. As soon as somebody doesn’t like something, they jump back down their holes and disappear.”
We make no excuse for bringing back Graeme Wood in profile, as he is one of the true business leaders we admire, look up to and draw attention to. Not only for his success in business, which is truly mentionable, but for his usually quiet commitment to environment causes. When he does speak out, it makes so much sense and we hope more take notice. Here’s a little more about Graeme and his work, including an article from The Australian a few months’ ago, when Graeme committed A$15 million to the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland. – Editor
Guy Healy in The Australian (17 March 2010):
CORPORATIONS should consider investing in a new university think tank to preserve their profitability and avoid the fallout from global population increases, philanthropist Graeme Wood has warned.
“The problems confronting us collectively are very complex and big, and no one institution, no one university, no one department from any university can make any real impact on these on their own,” said Mr Wood, chief executive of Wotif and a University of Queensland alumnus. He said business should see new UQ think tank the Global Change Institute as an opportunity.
“If you want to make money out of changing the way the world works, come and work with the GCI,” Mr Wood said.
He made the comments after donating $15 million to kick-start the GCI, which is intended to focus the brainpower of 500 leading researchers on the most difficult problems facing the planet.
“We are going to add three billion people to the planet over the next 30 years, and we are already struggling in many parts of the world to supply food and resources to those people,” GCI director Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said. .
“We could ignore them and then have a crash somewhere down the line, but I don’t think that’s how we want to do things as a global society.” He said the GCI would tackle the problems of energy, clean coal, nuclear power and renewables.
Graeme Wood, Founder & Executive DWotif.com
Graeme Wood revolutionised the travel industry when he created the concept for, and cofounded, Wotif.com in 2000. From his simple and innovative idea, Graeme pioneered the company’s development into what is now Wotif Group, which employs more than 450 people in offices spread across the globe.
One of Australia’s most successful and well-known online businesses, with Graeme and the company winning awards and accolades along the way, including:
Highest citizenship honour, recognising individuals who have made a significant achievement in their chosen field and who have made a difference in their community.
Winner of the “Most significant contribution by a large business or corporate” at the Vero Excellence in Business Support Awards 2007.
Winner of the Inspiration iAward and the Tourism & Hospitality category AIIA iAwards 2006.
National winner of the Technology, Communications, E-Commerce and Life Sciences category – 2005 Ernst and Young, Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
Australian Institute of Management Medal for Management Innovation 2004 Management Excellence Awards.
Overall Winner and Winner of Outstanding Achievement by an Organisation in the Services Sector – Premier of Queensland’s SMART Awards 2004.
In October 2007, Graeme retired from his role as CEO and Managing Director, but continues to play a key strategic role in the company as an Executive Director and also maintains a significant financial interest.
Graeme continues to pursue his interest in technology with his most recent venture being the popular Australian news search engine Wotnews.com.au.
As an environmental activist, in 2008 he launched the not-for-profit Wild Mob creating volunteering opportunities in wilderness conservation.
The philanthropic Graeme Wood Foundation supports the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland and also supports programs developing the creative potential of young people in the performing arts.
About Wild Mob
Wild Mob is a not-for-profit, non-political organisation launched in 2008 and is a registered Deductable Gift Recipient.
Founder and Chief Executive, Graeme Wood, is an Executive Director of the online accommodation website Wotif.com, which he co-founded in 2000. He supports philanthropic projects in the arts, education and the environment, and was announced the Suncorp Queenslander of the Year in June 2008.
What we do for Volunteers
Wild Mob projects provide a wilderness experience, meaningful conservation work and a practical learning environment. Projects are typically of one week duration (including travel time) for groups of up to ten people.
Educational input from local environmental researchers and Indigenous people are provided where possible. Volunteer groups are matched to projects based on age, skill level and physical capacity.
Projects are conducted on a cost-recovery basis for project management, transfers, food and accommodation. Schools with limited capacity to pay may be eligible for subsidies from Wild Mob or other sponsors.
Wild Mob offers conservation volunteer opportunities for people of all ages and nationalities. Here are some of our specialties:
- School Camps
- Volunteer Abroad Opportunities in Australia
- Gap Year Volunteering
- Grey Nomad and Senior Travel Volunteering Opportunities
- Corporate Groups
What we do for Natural Resource Managers
Wild Mob provides managed and self-sufficient volunteer groups. Each group has a team leader with
appropriate experience and qualifications in conservation, Occupational Health and Safety and First Aid.
Our goal is to minimise the need for involvement from resident rangers and property managers. Wild Mob works with both private and public natural resource managers. We do not charge any fee for our services but expect project materials to be supplied.