Energy giant AGL, Australia’s biggest climate polluter, has ditched its planned demerger, which Greenpeace Australia Pacific has labelled “one of the most bungled and misguided attempts at a corporate restructure in Australian history.

Glenn Walker, senior campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said that the failure of AGL’s demerger is representative of the failure of vision of its leadership team.

“AGL’s humiliating demerger backflip has to go down as one of the most bungled and misguided attempts at a corporate restructure in Australian history. It should be a lesson for any company that failing to act seriously on climate carries serious consequences,” he said.

“Graeme Hunt and Peter Botten, the chief architects of this failure, have fallen on their coal-blackened swords. But the entire AGL board is culpable. They failed to listen to the huge number of investors voting for a climate resolution at its last AGM. They failed to understand the shifting political landscape towards climate action. They failed to keep up with competitors, or the shift of their biggest customer Rio Tinto towards renewables.”

“After wasting well over $160 million of shareholders’ money on this dud demerger designed only to prolong the lifespan of polluting coal, the inexperienced members of AGL’s leadership team have got to go. The board that led Australia’s biggest energy utility to the point of ruin can’t be trusted with a strategic review of the company.” 

“AGL now needs a board made up of energy specialists to oversee its transition. Swift coal closure and a decisive energy transition will take AGL from Australia’s biggest climate polluter to a renewables leader.”

Loy Yang A is a brown coal fired thermal power station owned by AGL Energy in the La Trobe Valley in Victoria, Australia. It was commissioned in 1985 and is due to close by 2048, which is well beyond what scientists are calling for in order to prevent further catastrophic climate change (2030). AGL Energy is Australia’s single largest climate polluter.

AGL’s failed demerger would have seen the company split in two, with plans for its generation arm Accel Energy, to burn coal all the way through to the 2040s. The demerger plan has been under public fire from investors and climate experts, most notably tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, who earlier in the year attempted to take over AGL to replace its ageing coal-burning assets with renewables.

Cannon-Brookes is now AGL’s biggest single shareholder, and has proposed that two representatives from Grok Ventures, his private investment company, take a place on the AGL board, and an independent chair be appointed.