Comment: As we wait to see what shape our incoming Government will take, and where climate change will sit on its priority list, one thing hasn’t changed, and that’s our warming climate.

We’re seeing an acceleration in the volume and impact of devastating climate events – 10 countries and territories saw severe flooding in the first 12 days of September alone. Within New Zealand, we have already seen climate change volatility in action, when the Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle devastated communities earlier this year.

The scale of the humanitarian impact will only continue to increase, and demands a response not only from Governments, but from business and our communities.

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I’m pleased to report that despite the political uncertainty, tough trading conditions, and inflationary pressures that have been a hallmark of this year, business action on climate change continues.

As the Climate Leaders Coalition’s CEO Convenor, it has been my privilege to launch our fifth anniversary snapshot report, which shows just how far the business movement for climate action has come over the past five years, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

The combined emissions reduction achieved by our 88 signatories, who represent nearly a third of Aotearoa’s GDP, between signing up to the Coalition and now is 3.6 million tCO2e – that’s equivalent to the average annual emissions of 270,000 New Zealanders.

These achievements are underpinned by significant investment of $19 billion between 2020 and 2030 into both reducing emissions and making our businesses more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

As our report illustrates, New Zealand’s business community is doing the heavy lifting we need it to in order to meet our country’s targets – and in return, what we’re looking for from the incoming government is ambition, commitment, and consistency.

Our ongoing investment relies on future governments setting the conditions for success and we are looking forward to working with the incoming Government and wider Parliament to continue to accelerate climate action in the years ahead.

Emissions reductions from here on in will be hard won, especially as we grapple with tackling the scope 3 emissions of our suppliers and customers. We will also have to make some tough calls on adaptation and managed retreat, including who pays.

To any business who hasn’t started, it’s not too late – the hardest part is getting started. On the flip side, the risks of not taking action are real and significant – both in terms of material risks to businesses from climate change and the competitive risk of falling behind, when action is now a table-stakes expectation from customers and investors.

Ultimately this is the direction the market is moving globally – and if we don’t transform our economy, New Zealand risks getting left behind and losing our competitive advantage.

So my message to business is simple – the time to act is now.

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