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5 December 2016

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On the world stage with climate change

On the world stage with climate change

Mark Storey (Sargood 1980-1984) has built his career around climate change, taking senior roles in New Zealand and overseas.

Last year Mark, 49, led a world summit on climate change.

He describes the experience at the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Paris as a career highlight during his 20 years working on finance issues to do with climate change and environmental policy.

“A lot of my career has been working towards that and I was actually chairing some of the negotiations there,” he said from his home in Stockholm, Sweden.

He has worked in New Zealand, France and Sweden.

Mark describes climate change policy as a “good mix of science and economics and law. It is a fascinating mix of different issues coming together.”

He has lived in Sweden since 2009, and now works as a deputy director in the Swedish Ministry of Finance. He is a negotiator for the European Union in international negotiations on climate change.

His career began as a junior in a Government department in Wellington.

At the time, his father Rob Storey was a long serving National MP for Waikato (1984-1996) which included a stint at Minister for the Environment.

Wanting to avoid working in a department under his father, Mark’s first job in Wellington was in the trade policy division of the Ministry of Agriculture.

It was here he learnt to research and write policy briefs.

He came to Wellington after gaining a double honours degree in Political Science and Economics from the University of Otago.

Mark grew up on a North Waikato farm and attended Waiterimu Primary School, before arriving at St Paul’s in 1980.

When he finished school, he surprised everyone by announcing he wanted to do an overseas exchange. The time he spent in Chile in 1985 was a “tough, full on year.”

“There was a major earthquake in Chile when I arrived which caused a lot of devastation and it was still under the military dictatorship of the Pinochet regime. There were curfews in place so the whole thing was quite a shock for me.”

“It was a tough first six months and then a very enjoyable last six months which is pretty common for these exchange years.”

He says the year in Chile influenced his later life. “It gave me quite a taste for international life and an interest in travelling. I got the idea then that I would like to work or study abroad, although I wasn’t quite planning on being abroad as much as I have been.”

In 1993 Mark decided to do a master’s degree in Ecological Economics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. From there he was headhunted for a role in France and spent three years working at the OECD.

“I was offered a job in the environmental directorate working on climate change policy so that is how my interest in climate change policy came about. It was all in its infancy back then. It was before the Kyoto policy was introduced.”

“Since then I have been doing international climate change stuff and it has put me into an international setting.”

When last based in New Zealand from 2006 to 2009, Mark worked at the Ministry for the Environment and was then seconded to the New Zealand Emissions Trading Group at Treasury. This group had responsibility for drafting the New Zealand emissions trading legislation.

His job often sees him working alongside the key people representing different countries on climate change policy.

“The lead negotiators work on it until the end, and the politicians generally come in and rubber stamp things.”

While at school, Mark was the captain of the school debating team, gaining skills that would help him in later life. “It put me in a place where I was quite comfortable thinking on my feet and answering questions from people in authority.”

“I think that was a major skill set that St Paul’s gave me. I learnt how to debate and I often link that back to my school years. “

His early work experience in New Zealand also prepared him well for roles overseas.

“In New Zealand you often get pushed up into positions of responsibility quite quickly whereas in other countries you follow more of a hierarchy. At a fairly young age in New Zealand you are briefing ministers or prime ministers. You get exposed to decision makers while in other countries it takes quite a few years to get up the decision tree.”

Mark says good analytical stills, an ability to summarise and communicate complex issues simply, self confidence in a public environment and a high tolerance for stress are all the key attributes for his job.

Mark is married to Maria Storey and they have sons Adam, 13, and Nathan, 10.

They live in a bi-lingual household with Mark speaking English with his wife and children, and Maria speaking Swedish with the boys.

Mark played rugby until the age of 40 and has also been involved in coaching and refereeing in Stockholm. He is also interested in tennis and skiing.

He tries to visit New Zealand once or twice a year. “When we are home and it is August we try to get along to St Paul’s to watch a rugby game.” Mark’s nephew Liam Allen attends St Paul’s.

Mark’s parents Rob and Lorraine live in a retirement village in Glenview, Hamilton.