Associate Professor Mark Diesendorf

Associate Professor Mark Diesendorf

Associate Professor Mark Diesendorf

Deputy Director

Contact details

Phone: (02) 9385 5707


Room 404,  Level 4
Electrical Engineering Building (G17)
Kensington Campus, UNSW


Dr Mark Diesendorf 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 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 has collaborated with and consulted for a wide range of organisations including AusAID, Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Hydrocool Pty Ltd, Minister for Minerals & Energy (Western Australia), StateRail (NSW), Sustainable Energy Development Authority of New South Wales, Sustainable Energy Authority of Victoria, WWF Australia, 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 of the interdisciplinary book Human Ecology, Human Economy: Ideas for an Ecologically Sustainable Future (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 new book, Sustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change, was published in Australia/New Zealand by UNSW Press in December 2013 and published in the rest of the world by Routledge-Earthscan in May 2014.


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

IEST6911: Managing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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 strategies for the transition process.
  • Climate Mitigation
  • 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

Alice Bergonia, Laurence Delina, Ben Elliston (PhD awarded 2014), Jacqueline Hicks (PhD awarded 2013), Sara Bahareh Howard, Franziska Mey, Sarah Niklas and William Woodward (submitted thesis March 2014)

Recent Popular Articles and Presentations

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

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 (

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) Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. (Presentation) (PDF)

Diesendorf, M (2013) The struggle for a renewable energy future. 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) The Future of Sustainable Energy. Climate Action Summit 2012 (PDF).

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. 

Diesendorf, M. (2011) Demystification of nuclear energy. D!ssent, Spring issue.

Selected Refereed Publications

Diesendorf M (2014) Sustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change. UNSW Press, Sydney, xx + 356 pp. ISBN: 9781742233901. (Note: Although dated '2014', the book was published in Australia and New Zealand in December 2013. It was then published in the rest of the world by Earthscan in May 2014.)

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).

Delina L and Diesendorf M (under review 2014) 'Criteria for an effective climate action movement'.

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, G.M., 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, Rosie Cooney & P. Brown (eds) Conservation in a Crowded World: Case studies from the Asia-Pacific. UNSW Press, Sydney, 186-204.

Elliston B, Diesendorf M & MacGill I, (2011) 'Simulations of scenarios with 100% renewable electricity in Australian National Electricity Market', Solar 2011 Conference, Australian Solar Energy Society, Sydney, 30 Nov - 2 Dec [ PDF ]

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.