InterCity Group Aims For Carbon Neutrality
InterCity Group Aims To Operate the World’s First Carbon Neutral National Transport System
- InterCity Group Limited set to become the world’s FIRST carbon neutral national public transport operator
- InterCity will attain carboNZero status for its corporate emissions by winter 2007 and entire operation by 2010
- Over the past five years $20 million already invested in reducing InterCity’s carbon footprint
New Zealand’s largest national transport and tourism operator has signed up to Landcare Research’s carboNZero programme and aims to be the world’s first carbon neutral national public transport operator within three years.
The Minister for Tourism Hon Damien O’Connor made the announcement today at a ceremony outside Parliament Buildings.
InterCity Group, which includes the premium coach company Newmans Coach Lines, InterCity Coachlines and Kings Dolphin Cruises & Eco Tours, is on-track to attain carboNZero status for its corporate emissions by winter 2007, and intends to achieve carbon neutral status for its entire national tourism and transport operation within three years.
Landcare Research runs the carboNZero programme and works with organisations like InterCity to measure, reduce and mitigate their CO2 emissions so they can achieve carboNZero accreditation. The programme is based on five years of scientific research and is independently audited.
“We are philosophically committed to sustainability and feel the robustness and independence of Landcare’s carboNZero programme will help us ensure we are adopting effective, credible measures to help reduce the impact of emissions,” said Malcolm Johns, CEO at InterCity Group.
“This is not about writing a cheque to buy carbon credits to off-set our emissions. We are fundamentally changing the way we do business to reduce our carbon footprint and the carbon footprint generated by our Kiwi and international customers.”
Professor Ann Smith, research leader for business sustainability at Landcare Research, said she is impressed with InterCity’s comprehensive efforts to reduce its overall environmental impacts.
“Our team is really proud to be working with such a proactive company,” said Professor Smith.
“We are particularly impressed with the way InterCity is including its passengers, including international visitors, in its initiatives to reduce emissions, proactively improving the environmental performance of its fleet and its comprehensive environmental management of its offices – especially its progress towards a paperless office,” said Professor Smith.
“Other transport companies could take a lead from InterCity’s approach to improving its environmental and economic performance through the carboNZero programme,” she said.
As well as committing to its corporate activities becoming carbon neutral, InterCity Group plans by this 2007 to give its Kiwi and international passengers the option to buy voluntary carbon credits to off-set the emissions generated from their trips around New Zealand.
This has been made possible after 18 months of internal work by InterCity and eight months of work by Landcare Research.
InterCity has a long history of adopting new technologies from offshore to minimise its emissions.
“Over the past five years we have significantly reduced our carbon footprint by spending $20 million on modernising our fleet and voluntarily meeting European emission standards - we are not just paying lip service to this issue,” said Johns.
This investment has particularly paid off with respect to international visitors to New Zealand, he said.
Transport in New Zealand is a major contributor to New Zealand’s total carbon footprint, however most of it is generated by private cars.
“Independent assessments indicate an international visitor on a 7 to 10-day tour of our country could have up to a 90 per cent lower carbon footprint if they used InterCity and Newmans transport services than if they drove themselves in a modern 2.0 litre rental car. Similar figures apply to international visitors who go on group tours of New Zealand travelling on modern coaches,” said Johns.
“Regional and national tourism promotion authorities currently focus heavily on self drive tourists. Influencing transport modes may prove a key way to reduce tourism’s carbon footprint. This issue must become one of New Zealand’s key competitive advantages, not a disadvantage,” said Johns.
If New Zealand is to focus on reducing its overall carbon footprint, a critical issue to be addressed is the introduction of minimum emission requirements for all imported, commercial and private vehicles.
“The carbon issue is also particularly important for our marine mammal watching business in the Bay of Islands, because the ocean absorbs half of all carbon released into the atmosphere. This causes the ocean to acidify which affects the marine food chain.”
Signing up to Landcare Research’s carboNZero programme is the latest of several measures the 100 per cent Kiwi-owned and operated company has taken to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated from its business activities.
InterCity Group was the first New Zealand national land transport operator to introduce paperless ticketing in 1998, reducing its paper consumption by 80 per cent in the first year. It has also reduced the number of servers from 13 to four via a multi million dollar server upgrade in 2006 in its head office, cutting information technology electricity consumption by 70 per cent.
While InterCity Group continually works hard to reduce its emissions, with current technology it is impossible to completely eliminate them, said Johns.
InterCity Group will buy carbon credits through Landcare Research which currently sources them from landfill, windpower and native forest regeneration projects that reduce or prevent the production of greenhouse gases.
“This is not about us paying money to someone else to make us feel better. It is about a genuine effort to balance the emissions we put into the air with activities that take emissions out of the air,” said Johns.
“We have always been early adopters of new technologies throughout our business. We firmly hope more of these will become available in future to allow us to continue to reduce our carbon footprint and that there will be strong incentives for us to invest in these.”
InterCity Group carries about 1.5 million passengers nationwide each year, including 500,000 international visitors to New Zealand, and operates more than 140 daily services a day to more than 600 towns, cities and communities across New Zealand.
Kings Dolphin Cruises & Tours operates a range of marine mammal watching cruises in the Bay of Islands and daily sightseeing tours to Cape Reinga.