NZ businesses dealing with climate change

As well as general political consensus on the need to do more to address climate change issues in New Zealand, there are growing moves by big businesses to do something about it.

This is likely for mixed reasons, including they have a public duty to do something about it, pragmatic business reasons, and doing something to try to reduce the chances of Government forcing them to do more.

Stuff:  Businesses band together to tackle climate change

Sixty firms that contribute almost half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are pledging to help the country reach its net zero emissions target by 2050.

The businesses’ chief executives have formed the Climate Leaders Coalition after talks with the Sustainable Business Council. The group includes leaders of Z, Westpac, Ngai Tahu Holdings, Vector, Air New Zealand, Spark and NZ Post.

By signing the CEO Climate Change Statement, each of the business leaders has committed to measuring and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions and working with suppliers to reduce emissions, with the aim of helping to keep global warming within two degrees, as specified in the Paris Agreement.

The businesses will individually set targets to reduce emissions and report on progress annually. Most businesses involved in the coalition are already reporting their targets to reduce emissions.

Voluntary measures may avoid more drastic regulations and taxes and other disincentives.

Z Energy chief executive Mike Bennetts, leading the collective commitment…

…said it would be up to the consumers, media and the general public to hold each business involved in the coalition accountable, for every emission reduction report they puts out.

“When it comes to emissions, customers want to know what the businesses they are shopping at are doing. It will come down to individual customers and their connection with these individual companies,” Bennetts said.

Z Energy has committed to reducing its emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 for its internal operations.

Bennetts said Z Energy sold 9.3 million tonnes of carbon to its customers but was also looking to reduce New Zealanders’ reliance on fossil fuels.

Tricky for a petrol pump company.

Fonterra global operations chief operation officer Robert Spurway…

…said the company had also pledged to 30 per cent reduction, but by 2030 from a 2015 baseline.

“At the moment there is no legal requirement for businesses to complete emission reporting. The Government is looking at this over time, as part of New Zealand’s commitment to climate change, but this accelerates that,” Spurway said.

“It gives businesses that opportunity to lead through commitment by all those businesses within the coalition to report on an annual basis. It’s a step in the right direction.”

Professor James Renwick, of the Victoria University school of geography, environment and earth sciences…

… said it was good news for climate change action in New Zealand.

“This coalition, comprising almost half of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and including some very prominent businesses such as Fonterra and Air New Zealand, has the potential to make a significant difference. We will have to wait and see what actions the members of the CLC actually take, but the stated aim of reducing emissions to meet Paris Agreement limits is excellent”.

Professor Tim Naish, a climate scientist at the Antarctic Research Centre…

…said it was significant that the aviation, dairy and petroleum sectors were signatories.

“But just as it applies to governments that pledged in Paris, good intentions must translate into action, and time is short.”

“The science shows us that collectively if we leave it much longer this will require negative emissions and a technological solution.”

It is likely to become a mix of voluntary, incentive based and regulatory changes.

Whatever happens it is widely acknowledged there is a growing need to do something about climate change, and increasing efforts to do something from both Government and the business sector.