2021 represents a critical moment for New Zealand if we are to ensure we are on track to achieve our zero-carbon goal.
New Zealand’s response to Covid was to ‘go hard and go early,’ actions that have resonated around the globe.
To bend New Zealand’s emissions curve, and to meet our international climate commitments, our response to the climate crisis should be the same.
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We have the legislation in place. We have the Climate Change Commission in place. There’s great work happening around the country to reduce our emissions, within business, within communities, and as individuals.
As an advocacy group, we’re privileged to have at the vanguard of climate action the Sustainable Business Council and the Climate Leaders Coalition working in tandem to accelerate the reduction of their emissions.
They are fronting the wave of ambition for climate action, collaboratively walking the talk on actions we said we would take under the Zero Carbon Act. They are committed to New Zealand reaching the ambitions set in the Zero Carbon Act and the Paris Agreement.
We can be a big player in climate action. We can be an inspiration for other countries including the big players – the US, China, the EU – to follow our lead.
Business leaders realise that by taking action, and convincing large emitters to reduce their emissions, New Zealand will set a precedent. A precedent that gives us an opportunity to showcase our work on the international stage.We may be geographically remote. We may be a country with a relatively small population, but we can be a big player in climate action. We can be an inspiration for other countries including the big players – the US, China, the EU – to follow our lead.
Our members are leading the charge in bringing down their emissions footprint, reducing waste, and ensuring sustainable workplaces. Some have made operational changes to reduce emissions and unlock efficiencies. Many are already making the investment and innovation decisions needed to transition in the medium term.
Examples of Kiwi businesses leading the world in this space include Ports of Auckland’s new electric tug and Christchurch Airport’s recent replacement of its diesel and LPG boiler system with a ground source heat pump system.
Over the past few years, we have seen evidence of sector level thinking in climate action. A great example of this is a collaboration we are facilitating between TOLL, New Zealand Post, Swire Shipping, Countdown, The Warehouse, Fonterra, TIL Logistics, Ports of Auckland, and Lyttelton Port Company. This is to develop a low emissions solutions pathway for the heavy transport sector which will deliver a net zero freight sector by 2050 and will have halved emissions by 2030.
Throughout 2021 we will continue to progress the 26 recommendations for climate action priorities for Government set out in a report released late last year by Sustainable Business Council and Climate Leaders Coalition signatories. These recommendations will contribute to short term reductions and long-term benefits to New Zealand’s carbon footprint.
Top among them are increased investment in low carbon transport; an expansion of programmes to make process heat more efficient and low carbon; and speeding up the adoption of methane reduction technologies.
It will be challenging. It will take courage, ambition, and a clear vision. We must be bold. We proved we could do it with Covid. We can do the same again with climate, as we deal with both.
The transition has well and truly begun but we need to do much more if we are to reach the milestones on the road to our 2050 target. We need to ‘go hard and go now’.
We are already off to a positive start in 2021.
Next week the independent Climate Change Commission will release its first package of advice for public consultation. This will be an opportunity for all of us to have a say on the proposed first three emissions budgets, and guidance on the first emissions reduction plan. We will also find out if New Zealand’s first Nationally Determined Contribution is compatible with contributing to the global efforts to limit warming at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Government will receive the final package of advice in May.
Later in the year we will see the launch of the Ministry for the Environment’s first Emissions Reduction Plan for 2022 to 2025. It will set New Zealand’s policy direction for five high-emitting sectors – transport, building and construction, agriculture and forestry, waste, and energy.
In November, COP26 will take place in Glasgow. And by the end of 2021 we will have the Government’s response to the Climate Change Commission’s first package of advice.
The Sustainable Business Council and the Climate Leaders Coalition will be providing a joint submission on the Climate Change Commission’s proposed budget and on the Ministry for the Environment’s Emissions Reduction Plan. We will join our international climate colleagues, either in person or virtually, at COP26.
There’s no doubt 2021 will be a watershed year as we move from advocacy to action. It will be challenging. It will take courage, ambition, and a clear vision. We must be bold. We proved we could do it with Covid. We can do the same again with climate, as we deal with both.
If we do, 2021 will be New Zealand’s defining year for Covid and climate action.