Skip to navigation Skip to main content

Fortescue Executive Chairman Dr Andrew Forrest - Opening Plenary Remarks - Boao Forum for Asia 2023

30 March 2023

It is a great day to be together.

Premier, leaders, fellow Boao Forum Councillors, highly distinguished guests, all.

After the long dark winter of COVID, I have just returned from touring industrial China – including Hunan, Shaanxi, Jiangsu and Beijing.

I congratulate President Xi, and you, Premier Li on your appointment and your leadership.

The perseverance and growth I see in the Chinese people is a direct result of your leadership during the world’s isolation and I noted that during this dark winter, Chinese industry did not slow down – it raced even further ahead in technology, automation, robotics and manufacturing – in the supply chain ecosystem the world needs most.

Renewable energy - wind, electric mobility, batteries and solar. There is no other country doing it at such scale.

Yet sadly, not as a businessman, or philanthropist, but with fellow scientists around the world, I can report that global warming also has accelerated. 1.5 degrees Celsius warming is tragically most likely to happen this decade.

The science is right, but the timing was wrong. It may even happen next year if El Nino really hits. The cause is simple.

To my friend in the fossil fuel industry you have the greatest challenge and we are with you, the cause is simple, we are not moving fast enough. It is no longer a prediction; we are living right now in the era of fossil fuel driven, global warming acceleration.

It has no boundaries. It will hurt us all. Particularly our beautiful children. As a child, I believed that out of every setback is the seed to equal or greater opportunity. We must now take the opportunity for them.

I present to all our prescient leaders, that massive opportunity now.

Switching to renewable energy will lead to unprecedented economic growth, full employment, and material improvement in the standard of living of all citizens.

China, more than any other country, can lead this DECISIVE ACTION. Premier Li, you lead the world’s premier supply chain.

Your country can rapidly empower the global community to decarbonise in months and years, rather than years and decades, by supplying the equipment mankind needs with Joint Ventures all over the world.

You have the leadership, the capital and the massive technical and industrial base to make this happen.

I truly believe that China’s next five-year plan will not only be the most important plan in the history of the PRC, but, with the right settings, the most important five-year plan we have seen for the world. I encourage China, like all advanced nations, represented here and beyond, that we must ensure the world has the enormous supply of equipment it needs to fight global warming.

We must pull together to make this happen. Forget economic blocks, forget intergovernmental squabbles, they will be seen as short sighted and visionless by our children if we do not act now.

We must focus on our agreements and similarities and set aside our differences – for the future of all our children.

China, we rely on your success, your leadership and your incredible ability to plan and deliver.

As a simple citizen of our shared future, I encourage China to accelerate even further its renewables roll out, already successful – from 120 Gigawatts last year to 500 Gigawatts per year – to essentially eliminate national emissions in the 2030's.

All your baseload energy can be met from renewable electricity, with green hydrogen quickly replacing the gas you currently need to meet peak power requirements.

I am asking China, the most organized economy in the world, to achieve such a tremendous act of acceleration – at the same time, substantially lifting even higher the standard of living for all Chinese people and the people of the world.

This is the 20th year of Fortescue and China’s partnership.

I am so proud that our iron ore has helped build this great nation.

My promise to you now, is that our iron ore will soon be green, as we fully decarbonise our mining sites by 2030, bringing green steel one step closer. Trust not only what a man says, but what a man does.

It is my life’s aim that in 2049, we not only celebrate the first Century of the PRC, but also that all children are growing up, not in an unliveable, polluted planet, but in a green, harmonious world… one that only infinite, renewable energy, that yours, Premier Li, and President Xi’s leadership in this critical decade, can give them. Thank you.

Livestream of the speech as delivered available here.