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IQ2 Debate: It's too soon to ditch fossil fuels

It's the biggest debate humanity has to settle. Do we ditch fossil fuels right here and transition to renewable energy right here and now, or transition over time? 

Every minute we delay could mean dire consequences for our future and the climate. Yet a hasty switch could see unreliable and expensive options rolled out.
Consumers, the Australian government, and the energy and mining sectors all recognise the world needs to move away from coal, oil, and gas. But do we do it today or in stages over a few years or decades?

On August 28 we took the debate out of parliament and onto the IQ2 stage at Sydney's Town Hall, tackling the motion "It's too soon to ditch fossil fuels". An audience of over 900 people braved the cold evening to come along and inform their choices on energy policy. Our expert speakers presented compelling arguments for if we should, or should not make immediate plans to transition away from fossil fuels. 

Before the debate, an audience poll showed 24 percent thought it too soon to ditch fossil fuels, while 61 percent didn’t. The rest were undecided. 

Follow the compelling arguments and considered presentation of the facts from both sides of the debate, audience members took a final poll. Just 20 percent now thought fossil fuels should stick around, with 77 percent calling for an immediate plan for transition.




Cecile Wake is Shell Australia’s vice president of commercial, overseeing the company’s national oil and gas investments. She has 20 years’ experience in mining, oil, and gas sectors around the world. Cecile says the world has a moral imperative to transition away from fossil fuels and that work is already underway, but we can’t simply ditch them overnight.

Read her speech here

Josh Manuatu is the president of the national Young Liberal Movement of Australia. He has worked as a policy and media advisor for federal parliamentarians and ran his own communications and workplace advisory firm. Josh argues Australians like renewables but don’t want to pay for them. He urges against haste in favour of a planned, staged transition to affordable and reliable energy options.


Ketan Joshi is a science communicator who worked in the renewable sector for eight years, first as a data analyst, then in communications and advocacy. He has published work in The MonthlyGizmodoCosmos and others, and now works in data science communications at CSIRO. Ketan says we're overdue for the full-scale ditching of fossil fuels, and the delays are unforgivable.

Read his speech here


Lisa Cox is The Guardian AU’s environment reporter. She has been working on a special series called ‘Our wide brown land’ which has investigated overlooked environmental issues in Australia. Lisa argues ditching fossil fuels is becoming more urgent and can no longer be delayed. She says we have the urgent need, technology and ability to switch to renewables today.

If you attended the event, be sure to check out our image gallery with photography from the evening. Full debate video coming soon!