Associate Professor Mark Diesendorf

Associate Professor Mark Diesendorf

Associate Professor Mark Diesendorf

Honorary Associate Professor

Contact details



Environmental Humanities Group
School of Humanities & Languages
UNSW Sydney
Sydney NSW 2052, Australia


Dr Mark Diesendorf has a BSc (Hons) in physics from University of Sydney and a PhD in applied mathematics from University of New South Wales (now UNSW Sydney). He teaches, researches and consults in the interdisciplinary fields of sustainable energy, energy policy, sustainable urban transport, theory of sustainability, ecological economics, and practical processes by which government, business and other organisations can achieve ecologically sustainable and socially just development.

Prior to joining the Institute of Environmental Studies at UNSW Australia in 2004, he was a Principal Research Scientist in CSIRO in the 1980s, senior lecturer in Human Ecology at the Australian National University (1994-1996), then Professor of Environmental Science and Founding Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney (1996-2001), and then Director of the private consultancy Sustainability Centre Pty Ltd (2001-2007).

He was Deputy Director of the Institute of Environmental Studies from 2004 until its closure in 2015. He continued as Associate Professor in the new Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies network at UNSW. In mid-2016 he 'retired', continuing his research as Honorary Associate Professor. He is also Education Program Leader (part-time) of the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living.

He has collaborated with and consulted for a wide range of organisations including AusAID, Australian Conservation Foundation, Conservation Council of South Australia, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Hydrocool Pty Ltd, Minister for Minerals & Energy (Western Australia), NRMA, StateRail (NSW), Sustainable Energy Development Authority of New South Wales, Sustainable Energy Authority of Victoria, WWF Australia, several environmental NGOs and various municipal and local governments in Australia and China.

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 with Clive Hamilton of the interdisciplinary book Human Ecology, Human Economy: Ideas for an Ecologically Sustainable Future, Allen & Unwin (1997) and author of Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy (2007) and Climate Action: A Campaign Manual for Greenhouse Solutions (2009), both published by UNSW Press. His latest book, Sustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change, was published by UNSW Press, Sydney, and Routledge-Earthscan, London, in 2014.

Teaching (before retirement)

IEST5001: Frameworks for Environmental Management.
The introductory, interdisciplinary, core course for the Master of Environmental Management (MEM) degree.

IEST6911: Managing Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Flyer

Environmental Management - Physical Science Fundamentals.
One of the Fundamental Knowledge courses of the MEM.

Research Interests

  • Ecologically sustainable and socially just futures for Australia and the world. Creating visions of those futures and developing feasible scenarios and strategies for the transition process.
  • Climate mitigation, especially in transforming the energy sector.
  • Sustainable energy and sustainable urban transportation: technology assessment (environmental, social and economic), policies and strategies for implementation.
  • Economic systems that don’t require growth in the use of materials, energy and land.

PhD Students

Mark's PhD students, present and recent past, are: Laurence Delina (awarded PhD 2016), Ben Elliston (awarded PhD 2014), Emi Gui, Jacqueline Hicks (awarded PhD 2013), Bahareh Sara Howard (submitted thesis 2018), Franziska Mey (awarded PhD 2017), Sarah Niklas (submitted thesis 2017, revised 2018).
Mark is not accepting new research students.

Recent Popular Articles, Presentations and Videos

Diesendorf M (2018) Busting Myths about Renewable Energy. Video of seminar, School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Engineering, 13-09-2018.

Diesendorf M (2018) Is coal power 'dispatchable'? RenewEconomy, 28 August.

Diesendorf M (2018) How rapidly can we transition to 100% renewable electricity? RenewEconomy, 21 June.

Parkinson G (2018) The fake arguments against 100% renewable energy. (Article based on the journal paper by Diesendorf & Elliston 2018), RenewEconomy 19 June.

Diesendorf M (2018) 'Renewable energy breeding' can stop Australia blowing the carbon budget – if we're quick. The Conversation, 16 April. 

Diesendorf M (2017) The Feasibility of 100% Renewable Energy. Insurge Intelligence, 21 July.

Diesendorf M (2017) How South Australia can function reliably while moving to 100% renewable power. The Conversation, 22 Feb., PDF

Diesendorf M (2017) Submission to Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market (Finkel Review). PDF

Diesendorf M (2017) Book review of Fact and Fiction in Global Energy Policy, by Benjamin K. Sovacool, Marilyn A. Brown, Scott V. Valentine. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore (2016). Energy 122:746-747. PDF until 7 April 2017

Diesendorf M (2016) Risks, ethics and consent: Australia shouldn't become the world's nuclear wasteland. The Conversation 28 June.

Diesendorf M (2016) Rapid transition to clean energy will take massive social change. The Conversation 9 May; reprinted in RenewEconomy

Diesendorf M (2016) Renewable energy versus nuclear: dispelling the myths. The Ecologist, 19 April, reprinted in RenewEconomy 22 April PDF

Diesendorf M (2016) Dispelling the nuclear 'baseload' myth: nothing renewables can't do better! The Ecologist, 10 March, PDF 

Diesendorf M (2016) Why would the world accept Australia's offer to store nuclear waste? The Conversation 12/2/2016 PDF

Diesendorf M (2016) Do we need base-load power stations? EnergyScience Coalition: PDF

Diesendorf M (2015) We can achieve sustainability -- but not without limiting economic growth. The Conversation 30 Nov. 2015, PDF

Diesendorf M (2015/2016) Gone with the wind: renewable energy myths. Inspire (magazine of the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia) Summer 2015/2016: 61-63.

Diesendorf M (2015) Keynote presentation on 'A Sustainable Energy Future for Australia' at environment conference of Independent Education Union, 16-10-2015, PDF

Diesendorf M (2015) 'The fantasy of cheap, safe nuclear energy'. InDaily Adelaide Independent News, 28-9-2015, PDF.

Diesendorf M, interviewed by Rod Quinn on ABC local radio, Overnight program, topic: 'Renewable Energy Explained', 17 July 2015, audio 72 min.,[]

Public conversation on '100% renewable energy for South Australia' with Craig Wilkins, CEO of Conservation Council of South Australia, 16 June 2015, video of first 80 minutes:  

Diesendorf M (2015) Coal closures give South Australia the chance to go 100% renewablesThe Conversation 12 June.

Diesendorf M (2015) 100% Renewable Electricity for South Australia. Report to Conservation Council of South Australia, Adelaide, 11 June.

Diesendorf M (2015) Comparing the reliability and economics of renewable and nuclear energy. YouTube video, 25 min., presented at CRC CARE workshop on nuclear energy, []

Diesendorf, M (2015) Accidents, waste and weapons: nuclear power isn’t worth the risks, The Conversation 19 May.

Diesendorf, M (2015)  Should the nuclear industry be expanded? New Matilda 21 Feb.

Diesendorf, M (2015) Engineers Australia Eminent Speaker Series, public lecture, Sydney, April. Link to PDF 

Diesendorf, M (2014) Replacing fossil fuels with renewables -- what's possible? YouTube link (20 min. video)

Diesendorf, M (2014), Sustainable Energy ,'The Sustainable Hour' on Radio 94.7 Geelong (podcast)

Diesendorf, M (2014) , Get Fact: testing Ian Plimer on wind and solar power in Crikey

Diesendorf M (2014) Strategies and Policies for a Steady State Economy. Presentation at 2014 Australian Academy of Science's Fenner Conference on the Environment. mp3 13 MB video and slideshow

Diesendorf, M (2014) Sustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change (presentation at Griffith Monash and Melbourne Universities) PDF

Diesendorf, M (2014) Debunking Renewable Energy Myths and Reframing Australian Energy Futures, Australian Solar Council, Canberra PDF and AUDIO

Diesendorf, M (2013) Does coal-fired electricity have a future? The Conversation 10 Sept. PDF

Diesendorf, M (2013) The base debate hlding renewables hostage. Climate Spectator 18/12/2013 ( PDF

Diesendorf, M (2013) Dispelling the myth of energy payback of renewable energy systems.RenewEconomy 16-12-2013 (

Sovacool BK, Parenteau P, Ramana MV, Valentine SV, Jacobson MZ, Delucchi MA and Diesendorf M (2013) Comment on 'Prevented mortality and greenhouse gas emissions from historical and projected nuclear power'. Environmental Science & Technology 47:6715-6717. 

Diesendorf, M (2013) Another myth busted on the road to 100% renewable electricity. RenewEconomy (PDF)

Diesendorf, M (2013) Baseload power is a myth: even intermittent renewables will work. The Conversation, 10 April (PDF).

Diesendorf, M (2013) Book Review of 'Contesting the future of nuclear power: A critical global assessment of atomic energy' by B.K.Sovacool

Diesendorf, M (2012) 100% Renewable Electricity for Australia: Response to a critic (PDF)

Diesendorf, M (2012) Technological Status & Economics of Nuclear and Renewable Sources of Electricity. UNAM Forum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 16 February (PDF)

Diesendorf, M (2011)  A cheaper path to 100% renewablesClimate Spectator 21 Oct.

Diesendorf, M (2011) Can a carbon price cut greenhouse gas emissions? Australian Options, Winter issue. 

Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications

Diesendorf M, Elliston B (2018) The feasibility of 100% renewable electricity systems: a response to critics. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews 93:318-330. Link

Howard BS, Hamilton N, Diesendorf M, Wiedmann T (2018) Modeling the carbon budget of the Australian electricity industry's transition to renewable energy. Renewable Energy 125:712-728. Link  

Mey F, Diesendorf M (2018) Who owns an energy transition? Strategic action fields and community wind energy in Denmark. Energy Research & Social Science 35:108-117. Link

Delina LL, Diesendorf M (2018) 'Critiquing the use of war to mobilise peaceful climate action: A response to Kester & Sovacool', Energy Policy 112:1-3. Link

Hamilton N, Howard B, Diesendorf M, Wiedmann T (2017) 'Computing life-cycle emissions from transitioning the electricity sector using a discrete numerical approach'. 
Energy 137:314-324. Link 

Gui M, Diesendorf M, MacGill I (2017) 'Distributed energy infrastructure paradigm: community microgrids in a new institutional economics context'. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews 72:1355-1365. Link

Elliston B, Diesendorf M, MacGill I (2017) 'Reliability of 100% renewable electricity supply in the Australian National Electricity Market'. In: T Sidki Uyar (ed.) Towards 100% Renewable Energy. Springer, pp.297-303.

Diesendorf M (2016) 'Shunning nuclear power but not its waste: assessing the risks of Australia becoming the world's nuclear wasteland'. Energy Research & Social Science 19:142-147. Link


Mey F, Diesendorf M, MacGill I (2016). 'Can local government play a greater role for community renewable energy?: a case study from Australia'. Energy Research & Social Science 21:33-43. Link

Diesendorf M (2016). 'Subjective judgments in the nuclear energy debate'. Conservation Biology 30(3):666-669. doi:10.1111/cobi.12692. Link. Preprint of article + supporting information

Delina L, Diesendorf M (2016). 'Strengthening the climate action movement: strategies and tactics from contemporary social action'. Interface 8(1):117-141.

Diesendorf M (2016) 'The concept of base-load power.' In JH Lehr & J Keeley (eds) Alternative Energy and Shale Gas Encyclopedia. Wiley, Chapter 56.

Wolfram P, Wiedmann T, Diesendorf M (2016) 'Carbon footprint scenarios for renewable electricity in Australia'. J. Cleaner Production 124:236-245.

Diesendorf M (2016) 'Strategies for transition to a future beyond growth'. In: H Washington & P Twomey (eds) A Future beyond Growth: Towards a steady state economy, pp.223-238. London & New York: Earthscan from Routledge.

Yangka D, Diesendorf M (2016) 'Modeling the benefits of electric cooking in Bhutan: a long term perspective'. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 59:494–503.

Delina LL, Diesendorf M & Merson J (2015) 'Strengthening the climate action movement: strategies from histories'. Carbon Management  5(4):397-409DOI: 10.1080/17583004.2015.1005396 PDF

Diesendorf M (2014) Sustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change. UNSW Press, Sydney, and Earthscan from Routledge, London. xx + 356 pp. ISBN: 9781742233901.

Elliston B, MacGill I & Diesendorf, M. (2014) 'Comparing least cost scenarios for 100% renewable electricity with low emission fossil fuel scenarios in the Australian National Electricity Market', Renewable Energy 66:196-204 (see News page).

Diesendorf M (2013) ‘A genuine “green” economy must be ecologically sustainable and socially just’. In: Schroeder, S. & Chester, L, (eds) Challenging the Orthodoxy: Reflections on Frank Stilwell’s contribution to political economy. Springer, pp.223-241.

Elliston B, MacGill I & Diesendorf M (2013) 'Least cost 100% renewable electricity scenarios in the Australian National Electricity Market', Energy Policy  59:270-282. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2013.03.038 [PDF]

Delina L & Diesendorf M (2013) 'Is wartime mobilisation a suitable policy model for rapid national climate mitigation?', Energy Policy 58:371-380 (PDF)

Turner GM, Elliston B & Diesendorf M (2013) 'Impacts on the biophysical economy and environment of a transition to 100% renewable electricity in Australia', Energy Policy, 54: 288 - 299,

Elliston B, Diesendorf M & MacGill I (2012) ‘Simulations of Scenarios with 100% Renewable Electricity in the Australian National Electricity Market’. Energy Policy 45:606-613. [ PDF ]

Diesendorf M (2012) ‘The economics of nuclear energy’, in R.M. Basrur & C. Koh (eds) Nuclear Power and Energy Security in Asia. Taylor & Francis, pp.50-70.

Diesendorf M (2012) ‘Lost energy policies, opportunities and practice’, in KJ Walker and K Crowley (eds) Environmental Policy Failure: The Australian Story. Tilde University Press, pp.44-58.

Elliston B, Diesendorf M and MacGill I (2012) ‘Reliability of 100% renewable electricity in the Australian National Electricity Market’. Proc. IRENEC 2012, 2nd International 100% Renewable Energy Conference, Istanbul, June, pp.325-331.

Diesendorf M (2012) 'Can energy security and effective climate change policies be compatible?', in J Symons & L Anceschi (eds) Energy Security in the Era of Climate change: The Asia-Pacific experience. Palgrave Macmillan, pp.72-87.

Baumber A, Merson J, Diesendorf M, Ampt P (2012) ‘Revegetation, bioenergy and sustainable use in the New South Wales central west’, in J. Merson, R. Cooney & P. Brown (eds) Conservation in a Crowded World: Case studies from the Asia-Pacific. UNSW Press, Sydney, 186-204

Diesendorf M (2011) ‘Scenarios and strategies for climate mitigation’, Journal of Australian Political Economy no. 66, 98-117.

Diesendorf M (2011) Redesigning energy systems, pp.561-578, in J. Dryzek, R Norgaard & D Schlosberg (eds) Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. Oxford University Press.

Baumber A. Merson J, Ampt P & Diesendorf M (2011) ‘The adoption of short-rotation energy cropping as a new land use option in the New South Wales Central West’. Rural Society 20:266-279.

Diesendorf M (2010) 'The climate action movement in Australia', Social Alternatives, 29(3):56-62.

Mudd GM & Diesendorf M (2010) 'Uranium mining, nuclear power and sustainability: rhetoric versus reality'. Sustainable Mining Conference 2010, Kalgoorlie WA, 17–19 August, paper no. 45, 315-340. (PDF)

Diesendorf M (2010) 'Comparing the economics of nuclear and renewable sources of electricity', Solar 2010 conference, Canberra, Australia, 1-3 December. (PDF)

Elliston B, MacGill I, Diesendorf M (2010) 'Grid parity: a potentially misleading concept?' Solar 2010 conference, Canberra, Australia, 1-3 December. (PDF)

Buckman G & Diesendorf M (2010) 'Design limitations in Australian renewable energy policies', Energy Policy 38:3365–76; addendum 38:7539–40.

Diesendorf M (2009) Climate Action: A campaign manual for greenhouse solutions, UNSW Press, Sydney, ISBN: 978 1 74223 018 4, xiv+242 pp.

Messali E & Diesendorf M (2009) 'Potential sites for off-shore wind power in Australia'. Wind Engineering 33(4): 335-348.

Mudd GM & Diesendorf M (2008) 'Sustainability of uranium mining and milling: toward quantifying resources and eco-efficiency', Environmental Science & Technology. 42 (7): 2624-2630

Diesendorf M (2007) Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy, UNSW Press, Sydney, ISBN: 978 086840 973 3, xvi+412 pp.

Saddler H, Diesendorf M, Denniss R (2007) 'Clean energy scenarios for Australia', Energy Policy 35 (2): 1245-56.

Diesendorf M (2006) 'Wind power in Australia', Int J Environ Stud. 63 (6): 765-776.

Diesendorf M (2006) 'Can geosequestration save the coal industry?', in J. Byrne, L. Glover and N. Toly (eds), Transforming Power: Energy as a Social Project, Vol. 9, Energy and Environmental Policy Series, Transaction Press, pp. 223-248.

Diesendorf M (2005),'Governance of municipalities: a snapshot of sustainable development in China', in Hargroves KC and Smith MH (eds), The Natural Advantage of Nations: Business opportunities, innovation and governance in the 21st century, Earthscan, London & Sterling VA, pp.303-305.

Saddler H, Diesendorf M, Denniss R (2004) A Clean Energy Future for Australia, Clean Energy Future Group, Sydney, 164 pp., ISBN 1 875941 63 0 (book) and 1 875941 64 9 (CD-ROM).

Diesendorf M (2004) 'Comparison of employment potential of the coal and wind power industries', International Journal of Environment, Workplace and Employment 1:82-90.

Biswas W, Diesendorf M & Bryce P (2004) 'Can photovoltaic technologies help attain sustainable rural development in Bangladesh?', Energy Policy 32: 1199-1207.

Riedy C & Diesendorf M (2003) 'Financial subsidies and incentives to the Australian fossil fuel industry', Energy Policy 31 (2): 125-137.

Diesendorf M (2002) 'The effect of land costs on the economics of urban transport systems', in Wang, KCP, Xiao, G, Nie, L, & Yang, H (eds), Traffic and Transportation Studies, Proceedings of Third International Conference on Traffic and Transportation Studies (ICTTS2002), 1422-1429. (PDF)

Biswas, W., Bryce, P. & Diesendorf, M. (2001) 'Model for empowering rural poor through renewable energy technologies in Bangladesh', Environmental Science & Policy 4: 333-344.

Diesendorf, M. (2001) 'Models of sustainability and sustainable development', International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology 1:109-123.

Diesendorf M (2000) 'Energy scenarios in global economic models of greenhouse gas reduction', International Journal of Global Energy Issues, Special Issue on Global Modelling of Energy & Environmental Futures, 13:70-85.

Diesendorf M (2000) 'Sustainability and sustainable development', in Dunphy, D, Benveniste, J, Griffiths, A and Sutton, P (eds) Sustainability: The corporate challenge of the 21st century, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, chap. 2, 19-37. (PDF)

Diesendorf M (2000) 'A critique of the Australian government's greenhouse policies', in A. Gillespie. & W.C.G Burns (eds) Climate Change in the South Pacific: Impacts and Responses in Australia, New Zealand, and Small Islands States, Kluwer, pp. 79-93.

Banfield, K, Hutabarat R & Diesendorf M (1999) 'Sydney's passenger transport: accounting for different modes', ATRF99 23:269-285.

Hutabarat, R, Banfield K, Gollner A & Diesendorf M (1999) 'Social sustainability in passenger transport', Proceedings of Australasian Environmental Engineering Conference, Auckland, 131-136.

Diesendorf, M. (1998) 'The fate of the ESD recommendations on greenhouse response in the energy sector', in: C. Hamilton & D. Throsby (eds), The ESD Process: Evaluating a Policy Experiment, Canberra: Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and Graduate Program in Public Policy, ANU, 41-52.

Diesendorf M (1998) 'Australian economic models of greenhouse abatement', Environmental Science and Policy 1: 1-12.

Diesendorf M, Hamilton C (eds) (1997) Human Ecology, Human Economy: Ideas for an Ecologically Sustainable Future, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 378 pp. ISBN 1 86448 288 5.

Diesendorf M, Colquhoun J, Spittle BJ, Everingham DN, Clutterbuck FW (1997) 'New evidence on fluoridation', Aust. J. Public Health 21:187-190.

Diesendorf M (1996) 'How can a "competitive" market for electricity be made compatible with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions?' Ecological Economics 17:33-48.

Blakers A, Diesendorf M (1996) 'A scenario for the expansion of solar and wind generated electricity in Australia', Australian Journal of Environmental Management 3:11-25.

Diesendorf M (1995) 'How science can illuminate ethical debates: a case study on water fluoridation', Fluoride 28(2): 87-104.

Diesendorf M (1994) 'Windpower and other renewable energy sources', in: S Dovers (ed), Sustainable Energy: Pathways for Australian energy reform, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, chap. 7, 150-169.

Mills D, Diesendorf M (1994) 'The nature of renewable energy', in: S Dovers (ed), Sustainable Energy: Pathways for Australian energy reform, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, chap. 5, 112-128.

Diesendorf M (1986) 'The mystery of declining tooth decay', Nature 322: 125-129.

Martin B, Diesendorf M (1983) 'The economics of large-scale wind power in an optimally mixed CEGB electricity grid', Energy Policy 11: 259-266.

Carlin JB, Diesendorf M (1983) 'Analysis of some wind speed data from southern Australia with reference to potential wind energy conversion', Wind Engineering 7: 147-160.

Martin B, Diesendorf M (1982) 'Optimal mix in electricity grids containing wind power', Electrical Power & Energy Systems 4 (3):155-161. (PDF)

Haslett J, Diesendorf M (1981) 'The capacity credit of wind power: a theoretical analysis', Solar Energy 26: 391-401.

Martin B, Diesendorf M (1980) 'The capacity credit of wind power: a numerical model', Proc. 3rd Int. Symp. on Wind Energy Systems, Copenhagen, Cranfield UK: BHRA Fluid Engineering, 555-564. (PDF of similar paper givn at Simulation Society of Australia conference)

Diesendorf M, Martin B (1980) 'Integration of wind power into Australian electricity grids without storage: a computer simulation', Wind Engineering 4 (4): 211-226.