Ms Amanda McKenzie
Amanda McKenzie is an environmental leader and professional speaker and is currently CEO of the Climate Council.
After growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne, Amanda earned an Arts degree at Melbourne University and then a Law degree with Honours at Monash University.
While studying, she became increasingly concerned about the devastating impacts of climate change and the lack of political action on the issue.
Convinced young people were crucial to solving the climate crisis, she co-founded the Australian Youth Climate Coalition in 2006 and in three years, helped build one of Australia’s largest climate change advocacy groups, with more than 100,000 members.
The Australian Government recognized her work at the AYCC with her inclusion at the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee Round Table in 2010 and she led the Australian youth delegations to the United Nations Climate Change Conferences in Bali, Poznan and Copenhagen.
She was named Young Environmentalist of the Year in 2009.
She joined the Climate Commission as a Senior Communications Advisor after it was established in 2011 to communicate reliable and authoritative information on climate change to the Australian public.
Over the next three years, she built the Commission into the most significant non-government national media presence on climate change, creating a communications training program for climate scientists and generating more than $12 million in media coverage annually.
When the Abbott Government abolished the Climate Commission in September 2013, Amanda spearheaded Australia’s largest crowd-funding campaign, netting $1.3 million in 10 days from 16,000 people, to allow the commission to re-launch as the not for profit Climate Council.
She is now CEO of the Climate Council, an independent organisation dedicated to providing the Australian public with reliable and authoritative information climate change. In the last two years that Council has significantly shifted the public debate.
Amanda has overseen a rapid expansion of the Climate Council, garnering more than $35 million in media coverage during its first two years, reaching more than 200 million people through over 14,000 media appearances and building a reputation as Australia’s go-to organization for information on climate change and renewable energy.
Under Amanda’s leadership, the Climate Council has played a significant role in reshaping the public conversation on climate change in Australia, including: moving the public debate from a discussion of the science and whether or not climate change is real, to a discussion of solutions, like renewable energy; shifting the public understanding of extreme weather and climate change with public polling showing that increasingly the public link the two; and elevating renewable energy to a top tier political issue.
This has been achieved through providing messaging guides and briefings to commentators including scientists, environment organisations, fire fighters, health professionals, farmers, politicians, military personnel and others. Additionally, we have supported a broad range of “trusted voices” to speak to the media and community. On extreme weather this has included emergency service workers, health professionals and farmers. We have also briefed thousands of nurses, doctors and fire fighters at all levels to speak to their community. On renewable energy we have helped build the profile of key actors like the Solar Council, Solar Citizens and the Wind Alliance.
The Climate Council uses a variety of tactics to change the public discourse. Since our inception, we have produced 44 publications (as of Oct 2015), across extreme weather, renewables, fossil fuels, and global and local policy. We break all research down into meaningful, relevant and visual content so that people will not only engage with the information, but they will more likely absorb the content. Our facts, information and stories have also reached 50 million people this year through our social media channels both locally and globally. 3 million people have engaged in this content by liking, sharing and commenting.
Amanda is currently chair of the board of the Centre for Australian Progress and serves on the board of Plan International Australia. She has also served on the boards of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, the Committee for Melbourne and Climate Action Network Australia.
In 2014, she was named as one of the winners of the Westpac AFR 100 Women of Influence in recognition of her commitment to putting climate change on the public agenda.
She is a regular media commentator on climate change and renewable energy issues and has recently appeared on The Project, the 7.30 Report and Sunrise.