Skip navigation

First Nations Australian and Canadian energy leaders head to Canberra to secure Australian government’s commitment to partnering with First Nations in the clean energy transition

First Nations leaders from Australia and Canada are meeting with the Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen on 17th October and Members of Parliament and over 40 clean energy leaders on the 18th to share Canada’s experience and learnings to successfully ensure First Nations partner in Australia’s energy transition.

As demonstrated within Canada, without Indigenous Nations as genuine partners and rights holders, Australia's clean energy transition won’t happen at the pace and scale required. 

Karrina Nolan, co-Chair of the First Nations Clean Energy Network says this is the right time to reset relationships so we don’t make the mistakes of the past.

“Ensuring First Nations access to affordable reliable clean energy, and opportunities for partnering, equity and ownership of projects, as Canada has done, is fundamental to accelerating Australia’s energy transition.

“Canada, and the US through its Inflation Reduction Act, have already recognised that partnering with First Nations is a sound investment decision that creates additional value.

Australia can learn from Canada’s experience and accelerate equity and other genuine partnerships with First Nations and keep Australia in the global clean energy race by investing in a $100 billion Australian Renewables Industry Package over the next decade to benefit all Australians.

Chris Croker, co-Chair of the First Nations Clean Energy Network says First Nations in Canada have equity in over 200 large-scale clean energy projects across their country, compared to a handful of partnerships in Australia.  

“Government has the opportunity now to do the right thing, using strategic investment, policy levers and strong leadership to create the necessary certainty for First Nations rights holders - and industry - for the collective benefit of the Australian community.

“That includes ensuring early engagement and free prior and informed consent (FPIC) coupled with proper investment to ensure First Nations rights and responsibilities to Country are recognised and energy projects necessary for the clean energy transition can proceed.”

Indigenous Nations in Canada are the second largest clean energy asset owners and partners in the country, with thousands of small to large-scale projects underway and operating. These projects, many supported with the right policy settings and investments by government, have led to profound economic development outcomes, including wealth creation, thousands of new jobs and business opportunities, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, advanced gender equity, and have materially improved economic stability, cultural revitalisation and much more.

Chris Henderson, Founding Executive Director of Indigenous Clean Energy, the national platform for First Peoples clean energy leadership and participation in Canada, says relationships underpin reconciliation. 

“Governments, industry, and utilities must take time to build meaningful relationships with First Peoples to create an impactful clean energy transition. New, just and fair relationships that catalyse clean energy projects for a better and more sustainably prosperous Australia.

“We have been on a clean energy evolution pathway for the past two decades across Turtle Island, what is known as Canada.

"Month by month, week by week, and day by day, Indigenous people are asserting their rightsforging clean energy project partnerships, essential to combat climate change.

"Indigenous people expect that large- and small-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency projects conform with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and pass the test of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.

“In Canada, we have found that clean energy projects with substantive Indigenous leadership and ownership are also sound business propositions, yielding greater economic, environmental, and social impacts for Indigenous Peoples and Canada at large.”

In addition to one-to-one meetings including with Senator Jenny McAllister, Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy, the First Nations Clean Energy Network and Canada’s Indigenous Clean Energy team are teaming up with the Clean Energy Council and Senator Karen Grogan (co-founder of the Parliamentary Friends of Clean Investment group) to hold a special event on 18 October for all Members of Parliament, First Nations leaders, and clean energy industry and government representatives to share learnings.

The panel forum includes speakers: 

  • Karrina Nolan, co-chair, Australian First Nations Clean Energy Network 
  • Professor Robynne Quiggin, Steering Group member, First Nations Clean Energy Network, Pro-Vice Chancellor of UTS, and member of the Advisory Board to the Net Zero Economy Agency 
  • Chris Henderson, Founding Executive Director, Indigenous Clean Energy (Canada)
  • Freddie Campbell, Energy and Climate Senior Manager, Indigenous Clean Energy (Canada)
  • Daphne Kay, Energy and Climate Manager, Indigenous Clean Energy (Canada)
  • Kane Thornton, Chief Executive of the Australian Clean Energy Council 



Thanks to Social Estate for the image used.