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Climate Change Business Opportunities

NZBCSD Concerned That NZ Business Is Missing Out On Climate Change Business Opportunities

By: Stephen Tindall, Chairman, New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development (NZBCSD) is concerned that NZ businesses are at risk of missing out on the significant business opportunities that are likely to arise out of the climate change challenge. NZBCSD has identified significant business opportunities associated with the increased need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we believe that these, or similar opportunities are available to all New Zealand businesses. However a lack of awareness and innovative thinking may mean that businesses miss out.

My recent experience through The Warehouse has proved that companies can make a real difference. Our eco efficiency programme in the form of energy management which last year received the EECA supreme award is currently saving The Warehouse about $3M per year and is reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A number of our energy management initiatives are simply the clever application of common sense.

The NZBCSD Climate Change Business Opportunities report describes 32 potential business opportunities that the six participating companies have identified within their operations. These opportunities range from the provision of knowledge and services, to “climate friendly” branding, to investment in emissions reduction projects at home and in developing countries.

We have released this report with the aim of leading all businesses to thinking positively and creatively about the climate change challenge so that we can collaboratively seek win-win solutions.

The collaboration between Waste Management and Mighty River Power is an excellent example of an alliance that is delivering a win for business and a win for the environment. Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, is now captured from Waste Management’s Redvale landfill and is used to generate power for around 700 homes.

BP international has proved that reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be good for a company's financial bottom line. Since 1997 BP internationally has reduced its greenhouse gases by 10% from a 1990 base line and at the same time created $US650 million in value. Peter Griffiths, BP Oil New Zealand CEO, is convinced that other companies can also achieve these results.

Steve Bonnici, Managing Director, Urgent Couriers Ltd notes "Reducing Urgent Couriers' CO2 emissions through fuel use management reduces our impact on the natural environment while improving our contractors' financial sustainability."

Andy Pearce, CEO, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research was recently in London where there was considerable interest in the capabilities that Landcare has developed. Pearce noted “In the UK, major industries, banking, investing and insurance organisations have an increasingly strong focus on the sustainable development performance of businesses. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a key element of that performance. London is setting itself to be the global centre for emissions and credits trading, and there is strong interest in credits from New Zealand.”

According to Keith Turner, CEO, Meridian Energy Limited "Meridian Energy is currently exploring emissions trading opportunities that could potentially assist New Zealand to meet its Kyoto Protocol and national energy efficiency objectives”.

Milburn Cement has recognised a significant potential opportunity to receive credit for improving the efficiency of their subsidiary cement plant in China and Hubbard Foods have identified energy efficiency opportunities that will lower their costs and reduce emissions. Dick Hubbard notes that the first priority is to reduce emissions by improving energy efficiency, but further out they would look at the firm’s whole “greenhouse footprint”.

High-level quantitative analysis in the specific areas of commercial building energy efficiency, wood waste to energy, the Clean Development Mechanism (a mechanism where, under the Kyoto Protocol, countries can get credit for investing in emissions reduction projects in developing countries), methane reduction through ruminant efficiency and “climate friendly” branding revealed revenue opportunities of over NZ$350 million per annum. The resulting greenhouse gas savings would be around 9 million tonnes of CO2 per annum. This is estimated to be the emissions reduction equivalent of taking over 2 million average family cars off the road.

It is important to note that we believe that this analysis is only the beginning - a taster to get business thinking – there are likely to be plenty more opportunities out there. For example, optimising transportation systems has the potential to deliver enormous financial and greenhouse gas savings.

For most companies climate change is now a risk management issue with significant upside. It therefore makes good business sense for business to get to work as early as possible and understand and work to minimize their greenhouse gas emissions and identify their business opportunities that are likely to arise out of a carbon constrained economy. If we don’t act soon – we will miss out!

The NZBCSD report was prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers in conjunction with the Ministry of Economic Development (MED), the six participating members, BP Oil New Zealand Ltd, Hubbard Foods Limited, Landcare Research, Meridian Energy Limited, Milburn New Zealand Limited and Urgent Couriers. Experts from NIWA and Telecom also provided project input. A full copy of the report is available at www.nzbcsd.org.nz.

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