Dr Mark Diesendorf

My Expertise

Renewable energy, nuclear energy, energy technology assessment, energy policy, sustainability, ecological economics.


Dr Mark Diesendorf has a BSc with first class honours in physics from the University of Sydney and a PhD in applied mathematics from UNSW. He is currently Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Humanities & Languages, Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture, UNSW Sydney. He teaches, researches and consults in the interdisciplinary fields of sustainable energy, energy policy, theory of sustainability, ecological economics, and practical...view more

Dr Mark Diesendorf has a BSc with first class honours in physics from the University of Sydney and a PhD in applied mathematics from UNSW. He is currently Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Humanities & Languages, Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture, UNSW Sydney. He teaches, researches and consults in the interdisciplinary fields of sustainable energy, energy policy, theory of sustainability, ecological economics, and practical processes by which government, business and other organisations can achieve ecologically sustainable and socially just development. He is Section Editor for Energy of the international journal Global Sustainability.

From 2004 to 2016 he was Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the Institute of Environmental Studies, UNSW Sydney. His earlier positions include Principal Research Scientist in CSIRO in the 1980s, senior lecturer in Human Ecology at the Australian National University (1994-1996), Professor of Environmental Science and Foundation Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney (1996-2001), Director of the private consultancy Sustainability Centre Pty Ltd (2001-2007) and Education Program Leader of the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living from 2017 until it closed in June 2019.

Based on his belief that science, technology and economics should serve the community at large, he has been at various times secretary of the Society for Social Responsibility in Science (Canberra), co-founder and vice-president of the Sustainable Energy Industries Council of Australia, co-founder and president of the original Australasian Wind Energy Association, president of the Australia New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics (ANZSEE) and vice-president of Appropriate Technology for Community and Environment (APACE).

He is co-editor of the interdisciplinary book Human Ecology, Human Economy: Ideas for an Ecologically Sustainable Future (1997) and author of Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy (UNSW Press, 2007), Climate Action: A Campaign Manual for Greenhouse Solutions (UNSW Press, 2009), Sustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change (Routledge & UNSW Press, 2014) and lead author of The Path to a Sustainable Civilisation: Technological, Socioeconomic and Political Change (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023).

My Qualifications

BSc (Hons) in physics, University of Sydney; PhD in applied mathematics, UNSW

My Engagement

Recent popular articles, videos, presentations & media include:

"Refuting myths about nuclear and renewable energy". Pearls & Irritations, 3 July 2024. Reprinted by RenewEconomy and Solar Citizens.

Video presentation: "The Path to a Sustainable Civilisation", Economics of Sustainability series, Lecture 5, 29 January 2024.

"Is nuclear power a credible option for Australia?'. Canberra Times, 21 January 2024.

"Critique of nuclear power". Pearls & Irritations, 12 January 2024.

"Planned degrowth is needed to stop the collapse of civilisation". Pearls & Irritations, 5 October 2023.

Presentation: "The Path to a Sustainable Civilisation", AELA-NENA Earth Economics webinar, 14 September 2023. 

Video: "The Path to a Sustainable Civilisation", 6 minutes 38 sec., Melbourne Town Hall meeting on climate action. 9 September 2023.

Presentation: "The energy transition: overcoming the non-technical barriers". Renew Illawarra symposium, 7 September 2023.

Podcast: The Sustainable Civilisation", Mark Diesendorf interviewed by Mik Aidt, 69 minutes, 18 August 2023. A slightly shortened version of this interview was broadcast on community radio 3CR on 9 October. Transcript

Presentation: "Campaign strategy for transformative democracy", Green Institute Conference, Brisbane/Meanjin, 18-19 August 2023.

Presentation: "Campaign strategy for transformative democracy", UNSW Public Symposium, 14 August 2023.

Video: "Strategy for transitioning to a sustainable civilisation", 2 minutes, EcoSummit 2023, Gold Coast, Australia, 13-17 June 2023."

Saving humanity: here is a radical approach to building a sustainable and just society". The Conversation, 19/5/2023. Republished as "Confronting state capture" by Pearls & Irritations, 20/5/2023. Republished in Illuminem on 30/5/2023.

"The transition to a steady-state economy: a reply to Michael Keating". Pearls & Irritations, 2/2/2023.

"Reduce consumption, or face reality of civilisational collapse". Pearls & Irritations, 11/1/2023.

"What's not to like about nuclear fusion?" Pearls & Irritations, 27/12/2022.

"Nuclear fusion 'holy grail' is not the answer to our energy prayers". The Guardian, 20/12/2022. A similar letter was published in The Canberra Times.

"It will be impossible to replace fossil fuels by 2050, unless we cut our energy consumption". The Conversation, 25/8/2022; reprinted the same day by RenewEconomy.

"Is the life-cycle energy required for renewable energy technologies comparable with their energy generation and will the construction of renewables always emit CO2?". The Canberra Times, 9 July 2022

'We must reduce global energy consumption to reach net zero emissions by 2050". illuminen, 1 June 2022.  

'Net zero by 2050 will hit a major timing problem technology can’t solve. We need to talk about cutting consumption.' The Conversation, 28/4/2022. 

Interview on sustainable futures, focusing on energy, (40 minutes). Modern Money Doughnuts, 20/4/2022

'Is there enough land for renewable energy?'. The Canberra Times, 20/2/2022.

'What are sustainability and sustainable development?'. The Canberra Times, 16/1/2022.

'Too expensive, too slow: even the baseload argument doesn't work for nuclear'. RenewEconomy, 29/10/2021. This is a revised and expanded version of the article published by Pearls and Irritations on 21/10/2021.

'The nuclear industry’s updated songsheet remains outdated'. Pearls and Irritations, 21/10/2021.

'Community Renewable Energy', webinar hosted by Energy Democracy and ITP Development, 12/10/2021.

'A Sustainable Energy Future for Australia & the World', webinar organised by Sustainable Prosperity Action Group, 21/6/2021.

'The politics of reaching net-zero'. Pearls & Irritations, 7/6/2021

'Peter Garrett gives Labor a free pass on climate action'. Pearls & Irritations, 15/2/2021.

'Economic recovery from Covid-19 while mitigating climate change'. Pearls & Irritations, 10/12/2020.

'It’s time for a serious consideration of a job guarantee'. Pearls & Irritations, 6/10/2020.

'Angus Taylor’s tech roadmap is fundamentally flawed — renewables are doable almost everywhere'. The Conversation, 23/9/2020.

'A government program to lock-in fossil fuels'Pearls & Irritations, 20/9/2020.

'The time has come for regulations that drive net zero homes'. The Fifth Estate, 16 September 2020.

'A steady-state economy needs renewable energy'. New Economy Journal, Vol. 2, No. 4, August 2020.

'The last chance to stabilise Earth's climate'. Pearls & Irritations, 16 July 2020.

'An ecologically sustainable energy future for Australia & the world. Part 2', video presentation to Citizens Climate Lobby Australia, June 2020, 24 minutes.

'An ecologically sustainable energy future for Australia & the world. Part 1', video presentation to Citizens Climate Lobby Australia, June 2020, 32 minutes.

'Debunking Michael Moore’s myth about life cycle energy needs of wind and solar'. RenewEconomy, 11 May 2020.

'Population is a driver of environmental impact: a response to Duncan Wallace'. New Economy Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2, May 2020.

'Lessons from Covid-19: Strategic Planning for other Major Risks', Pearls & Irritations, 6 May 2020.

'Five reasons why Michael Moore's Planet of the Humans is a bad mistake'. RenewEconomy, 4 May 2020.

Mark Diesendorf & Dennys Angove, 'What is a fair carbon budget for Australia?' RenewEconomy, 21 February 2020.

Mark Diesendorf & Richard Broinowski, 'A covert push for nuclear weapons?' Australian Outlook, 26 August 2019; reprinted in RenewEconomy and also by Beyond Nuclear International. 

'Ecological economics: The economics of sustainability', New Economy Journal, vol. 1, no. 4, July 2019.

'An environmental science perspective on population' New Economy Journal, vol. 1, no. 3, June 2019.

'New grid needs cooperation', Canberra Times, 1 May 2019.

'Fixing the gap between Labor's greenhouse gas goals and their policies ', The Conversation, 3/5/2019.

Interview on Renewable Energy (15 min.), March 2019.

'Energy shortlist gets low score', Radio Adelaide 101.5, Barometer program, 15/3/2019

'The government's electricity shortlist rightly features pumped hydro (and wrongly includes coal)', The Conversation, 29/3/2019.

'NSW and a renewable energy policy: we need one', UNSW Sydney Newsroom, 12/3/2019.

'100% renewable electricity: reliability, economics, impediments & key policies', 100% Renewables Workshop, ANU, 15/2/2019.

'Busting myths about renewable energy', Renew Magazine, issue 146, Jan. 2019

'Renewable electricity policy for Australia', The Australia Institute, Nov. 2018.

'Four key steps to take Australia towards 100% renewable electricity', RenewEconomy, 18/11/2018.

'Is coal power dispatchable?', RenewEconomy, 22 August 2018.

Video of seminar, 'Busting myths about renewable energy', 52 min., School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering, 13 Sept. 2018.

'Renewable energy breeding can stop Australia blowing the carbon budget -- if we're quick', The Conversation, 16/4/2018.

'How rapidly can we transition to 100% renewable electricity?', RenewEconomy, 21/6/2018.

'How South Australia can function reliably while moving to 100% renewable power', The Conversation, 22/2/2017.

'Rapid transition to clean energy will take massive social change', The Conversation, 9/5/2016.

'Bias in comparing nuclear and renewable energy scenarios', Atlas of Science, 10/4/2016.

'Why would the world accept Australia's offer to store the world's nuclear waste?', The Conversation, 16/2/2016.

'Renewable energy versus nuclear: dispelling the myths'. The Ecologist 2016.

'Dispelling the nuclear "baseload" myth: nothing renewables can't do better'. The Ecologist, 2016.

'We can achieve sustainability, but not without limiting economic growth', The Conversation, 30/11/2015.

My Teaching

IEST6911: Managing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

IEST7300: Environmental Management: Physical Science

Guest lectures on sustainability, renewable energy, energy policy

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