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Net Zero Commission

Independent expert advice as we transition to net zero and adapt to climate change

Latest updates

Read our latest media release: 

Net Zero Commission gears up with inaugural appointments

About the Commission

The Net Zero Commission was established in December 2023 under the Climate Change (Net Zero Future) Act 2023.  

It is a NSW Government agency responsible for providing independent expert advice to ensure NSW is on a clear path towards net zero.  

The Commission’s role is to:

  • monitor, review and report on the State’s whole of economy progress towards its emissions reduction targets and the adaptation objective that NSW is more resilient to a changing climate
  • provide independent, expert advice on the NSW Government’s approach to addressing climate change
  • provide recommendations to the NSW Government on plans or policies to meet the states emissions reduction targets and the adaptation objective
  • educate and inform the NSW Government, businesses, organisations, and individuals on ways to promote action to address climate change.

The Net Zero Commission operates independently but is accountable to the NSW Parliament. The Joint Standing Committee on Net Zero Future, established in June 2024, monitors and reviews the Commissions functions under the Act.  

The Commission’s first annual report is due to the Minister for Climate Change by 1 November 2024.

Commission members

The Commissioners have expertise across climate change science, economics, technology, government, distributional, sectoral, and human health impacts, climate change adaptation and mitigation. They also have expertise in the interests of Aboriginal, regional and remote communities in NSW.

Chair and Commissioner positions are appointed for a five-year term. They are not eligible for reappointment after this term.

Dr Paul Grimes PSM (Chair)

Dr Paul Grimes brings diverse public sector experience spanning senior appointments across state, territory and federal levels of government.

In addition to serving as Secretary of the NSW Department of Treasury, and NSW Coordinator-General for Environment, Energy and Science, he is a former Secretary of the Commonwealth Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, and Secretary of the Commonwealth Government Department of Agriculture.

Earlier, Dr Grimes was Associate Secretary (Domestic Policy) in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Deputy Secretary in the Commonwealth Department of Finance. He has also served as Chief Executive of the ACT Department of Treasury and as Deputy Under Treasurer (Deputy Secretary) in the South Australian Department of Treasury and Finance. Before joining the South Australian public service, he led the Budget Policy Division in the Commonwealth Treasury.

He is currently a member of the Commonwealth Government’s Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee and Chair designate of the National Archives Advisory Council.  He has served on numerous boards, most recently as Deputy Chair of the NSW Treasury Corporation, as a member of the Infrastructure NSW Board and the Greater Cities Commission.

In 2010, Dr Grimes was awarded the Australian Public Service Medal for his role in the development of the Australian Government’s response to the global financial crisis. He holds PhD and Masters degrees in economics from the Australian National University.

Ms Maria Atkinson AM

Ms Maria Atkinson is a Director of Maria Atkinson Consultancy, and currently chairs the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction and advises the Australian Circular Economy Hub. 

Previous roles include Eastern City District Commissioner with the Greater Cities Commission, Global Head of Sustainability and Executive with Lendlease Limited. She was also the founding CEO of the Green Building Council of Australia.

Ms. Atkinson was awarded a Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2012. This recognised her leadership and contributions to environmentally sustainable building development in Australia.

Mr Oliver Costello

Mr Oliver Costello is a Bundjalung man from NSW's Northern Rivers. He is currently the Executive Director of the Jagun Alliance Aboriginal Corporation, Co-manager of the Conservation Futures project and is an independent consultant focused on Cultural Fire, Caring for Country, Natural Hazards, and Climate Change adaptation and mitigation. He also serves on various community, state and national boards and committees, including as a Board Member of Natural Hazards Research Australia, Co-Chair of the National Indigenous Australians Agency Indigenous Rangers Independent Reference Group, National Koala Recovery Board, Co-Chair of the Koala Recovery Team First Nations Reference Group and member of the NSW Independent Koala Expert Panel.

Previous experience includes setting up the Firesticks Initiative, a program instrumental in promoting the use of cultural fire for landscape management across southeast Australia. Mr Costello has also offered valuable advice on natural hazards and climate change for the NSW Bushfire and Flood Inquiries, and the Commonwealth State of the Environment Report's Extreme Events chapter.

Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte HonFIEAus FIEEE FREng FAA FRS

Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte is the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer.

From 2017-18 he was Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Ministry of Defence, from 2010-2014, he was CEO of National ICT Australia (NICTA), and from 1995-2010 Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems, an ARC Federation Fellow, and the founding Director of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) at the University of Sydney.

Professor Durrant-Whyte is an honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia (HonFIEAus), a Fellow of the IEEE (FIEEE), of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA), of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng), and of the Royal Society of London (FRS).

Professor Frank Jotzo

Professor Frank Jotzo is Professor of Environmental Economics and Climate Change Economics at the Australian National University's (ANU) Crawford School of Public Policy, and Head of Energy with the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions. He currently leads the Australian Government’s Carbon Leakage Review.

Professor Jotzo has been in senior author roles with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and has contributed to a range of scientific review and policy advisory processes.

Ms Katerina Kimmorley

Ms Katerina Kimmorley is currently Head of Commercial and Investments at Boundless Earth. 

Previous roles include being a member of the NSW Government Net Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board, holding positions at the Clean Energy Finance Corporation's Venture Capital Innovation Fund and serving as the co-founder of Pollinate Energy.

Ms Kimmorley has been recognised by the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence, as the London School of Economics Entrepreneur of the Year and received the Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize.

Ms Meg McDonald

Ms Meg McDonald is Chair of the Trailblazer for Recycling and Clean Energy (TRACE) Board and Advisory Board member of The Nature Conservancy. She has over 30 years experience in the public and private sectors, in Australia and internationally, with a focus on climate change and energy, sustainability and stakeholder engagement.

She has previously served as Board member of the NSW Net Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board, Environment Commissioner of the Greater Cities Commission and on the Australian Government Foreign Investment Review Board(FIRB) and as board member of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and on the Board of the CRC for Low Carbon Living.  She was an expert panel member of the NSW Government Decarbonisation Innovation Study (2021 and 2023).

Ms McDonald was the inaugural Chief Operating Officer of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). She earlier served as a senior diplomat as Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment and  Deputy Ambassador to the United States in Washington DC.

She holds an Honours Degree in Applied Science from the University of New South Wales.

Professor Andrew Pitman AO

Professor Andrew Pitman is currently the Director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, hosted by the University of New South Wales.

He serves on several boards and advisory bodies, including the National Environmental Science Program Climate Systems steering committee, the Science Advisory Board for the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Infrastructure, and the Advisory Board for Risk Frontiers. He also chairs the Academy of Science's National Committee for Earth Systems Science.

Professor Pitman has been recognised through numerous awards, including a shared Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his role as a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. He was named NSW Climate Scientist of the Year in 2010 and received the Order of Australia in 2019 for his dedication to climate research.

Contact the Commission

To contact the Commission please email the Commission’s Secretariat at [email protected]