It’s the end of the fossil fuel era. It’s time to take climate change seriously. Research shows there’s a $13.5 trillion market opportunity for a low carbon energy sector. This is making headlines all over the world. Eminent scientists in New Zealand state there is a clear case for immediate action.
On 22 April, 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement on climate change. It was the first time all major world economies have committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
We Mean Business, a coalition of seven international business networks summarised the implications: “Together governments are sending a decisive market signal that the transition to a thriving clean economy is inevitable, irreversible and irresistible. Paris calls to businesses and investors to accelerate this transition, and to seize the trillions in opportunities to bring clean energy and prosperity to all.”
Five days after the Paris agreement, the Royal Society released the Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy for NZ report. It highlighted the opportunities to reduce emissions in all sectors in New Zealand and transition to a thriving low carbon economy.
The New Zealand economy relies on income from exports and international tourism. With the global spotlight on climate change, there will be high expectations for a ‘clean, green’ New Zealand economy. This will impact all our businesses and the pressure will be on to sharpen up our act.
So how should your business act on this?
Get smart on transport
- Use biofuels instead of petrol or diesel
- Follow the lead of Mighty River Power, Air NZ and NZ Post and shift your fleet to electric vehicles or hybrids
- Use car-sharing or car-pooling schemes, such as Your Drive
- MyCarYourRental or Cityhop
- Use taxi companies like Green Cabs or Uber
- Think about ditching the car altogether: walk or cycle more to work or between meetings. Ricoh NZ actively discourages the use of cars, with its head office having a limited number of parking spaces. It encourages its staff to take up cycling instead.
- Incentivise staff to use public transport and disincentivise free car parks
- Promote flexible working arrangements, including remote access and video conferencing.
Purchase low carbon products and services
- Support companies focusing on energy efficiency and renewables through your procurement policy
- Purchase items produced locally as they will have lower emissions from transport. Auckland Council, Fuji Xerox, IAG and others are looking at sustainable procurement with some 25 corporates learning from their leadership. The Sustainable Business Directory makes it easy to find a sustainable supplier in your area.
Be resource efficient
Your business can make save money and energy by implementing an energy saving programme. This needs to go a lot further than switching off lights and equipment at the end of the day.
Most New Zealand businesses can save 20% on their energy bill simply by being smarter with their energy use. For example, you could install Philips’ energy efficient LED lighting. You can also designing in this kind of efficiency to buildings and other facilities. Ceres Organics’ new building in Auckland is highly energy efficient and reuses 90% of the materials found on site
Measure your emissions
Measure and reduce your business’ annual carbon emissions by using the free online Annual Carbon Emissions calculator. It’s a simple way of monitoring your business’ impact on climate change.
Offset the rest
Whatever you can’t cut, you can offset. New Zealand-based carboNZero and Ekos offer certified carbon offsets and in projects in New Zealand and abroad.
The Sustainable Business Network works with many New Zealand organisations that are already ahead of the game. They’re raring to go with renewable and energy efficient solutions. They’re future-proofing their businesses against impending climate change and looking to grab a chunk of the global opportunity in low carbon. They’re the ones who will be first to reap the rewards. Will you join them?
Rachel Brown, CEO, Sustainable Business Network
A version of this article was first published in the National Business Review, 13 May 2016