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Reducing your carbon emissions is much more than just turning off the lights when everyone goes home, or offsetting your air travel by buying a bunch of carbon credits

Editorial – August / September’19

How are your plans going to make your business carbon zero? How ready are you for the Zero Carbon Act? Think climate change is a fad and the noises about reducing your carbon footprint are all a big have? Think again.

Currently before the environment select committee, the government’s Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill will guide how New Zealand will develop and implement climate change policies so that we contribute to the global effort under the Paris Agreement to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

If it’s eventually passed by Parliament, it will amend the current Climate Change Response Act 2002 and bring into effect the Zero Carbon Act. Under this legislation, a target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 will be set, and an independent Climate Change Commission will be established to provide expert advice to future governments.

How is this likely to affect you? Those businesses that generate emissions – predominantly through transport and the use of energy – will have to rethink their business models. In July last year, the Climate Leaders Coalition was formed to promote business leadership and collective action on the issue of climate change and to help New Zealand businesses transition to a low-emissions economy.

To date, 114 organisations from all sectors of the economy have joined the coalition; together, they represent 60% of New Zealand’s gross emissions. Construction sector signatories include Hawkins, Downer and Naylor Love. By joining the coalition, each organisation commits to voluntarily measuring and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions, setting an emissions reduction target, and working with suppliers to reduce their emissions.

And it is a major commitment with a long-term goal. It’s not an easy fix and certainly not something that can be done overnight. It’s much more than just turning off the lights when everyone goes home, or offsetting your air travel by buying a bunch of carbon credits. It’s more an overarching philosophy about your business, your mission, and your entire supply chain. And once the legislation is in place (expected late this year), it’s not something you’ll be able to opt out of.

So where to start (if you haven’t already done so)? Measuring your greenhouse gas emissions is the first step to understanding where the impacts are greatest in your business, says the Sustainable Business Council (SBC), which aims to mainstream sustainability within the New Zealand business community. Managing emissions involves setting long-term targets for reduction across the business and building a roadmap for how to get to the target.

The SBC has guides for emissions measurement and management and sustainable procurement (sbc.org.nz/resources/guides), and the Climate Leaders Coalition also has a number of resources to help you on your way (climateleaderscoalition.org.nz/news-and-resources/resources/events-and-guides/how-to-meet-the-commitments).

When’s the best time to start on your road to net zero? Right now. Because if you leave it too late, you might find yourself without the green credentials that your clients will start demanding.

Until next time …
Lynne Richardson, editor

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