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Business lobbyists need to quality climate researc

Business lobbyists need to produce quality research, and take lead on managing climate change

Business lobby groups need to produce well-researched studies on the impact of efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions here, and could look to British industry leaders for an example of how to lead on addressing climate change.

The most recent positions taken by the major Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) provide a stark contrast to the latest effort of the Business Roundtable lobby group here.

Unfortunately, the value of economic modelling released today by the Business Roundtable and PEANZ "does not rise above the quality of its heroic assumptions", the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, Peter Neilson says.

These include ones of a 4.9% annual economic growth target, assuming complete carbon neutrality by 2050 and that no other country takes steps to reduce emissions over the next 17 years. It also assumes no new emission-cutting technology is introduced.

"None of those assumptions are well based. Unsurprisingly, the Roundtable leads itself to believe that there will be 'devastating' impacts on many industries, output will be cut 30 to 40% for sheep and dairy farming and that major industrial firms could close. The Roundtable also says 'There are currently no low-cost ways for New Zealand to reduce emissions significantly'.

"This of course would come as an absolute shock to the scientists at Lincoln University who, with the Ravensdown fertiliser company, have developed a world-leading nitrogen inhibitor.. It not only promotes growth and boosts production but cuts nitrous oxide emissions, which form a third of our agricultural emissions. New Zealand can cut agriculture's emissions by 10% before 2012 by applying best practice technologies, including nitrogen inhibitors – and make money while doing so. New Zealand companies are developing new world leading bio fuels from algae in sewage or organisms fed on carbon monoxide emitted by steel mills. Overseas, Sargas in Norway believes it can remove 95% of CO2 from coal power stations for US$20 per tonne of CO2. None of this can be incorporated in the type of modelling undertaken from the Roundtable and PEANZ.

"We need to move on from reports based on unrealistic assumptions and look at how our counterparts are leading in other countries, while representing industry's concerns in a balanced way," Mr Neilson says.

The CBI said on January 24: "Businesses support the bold lead that the EU is taking on climate change. A robust cap for emissions, while challenging, will help create the effective carbon market that firms need to plan and invest in new, greener, technologies… Effort to cut emissions must be shared across the whole economy." The full statement is at

The CBI recently commissioned McKinsey to advise it on emission abatement opportunities in the UK. That report shows it is possible to cut emissions – grow an economy and profit.

Matthew Farrow, head of environment at the CBI, said on this report: "As the CBI's Climate Change Task Force made clear, businesses, Government and individuals need to make climate change a shared national priority if we are to achieve the urgent changes needed to avert the worst effects of climate change."

The CBI's statements and full climate change report are at

A recent UK Carbon Trust study also found that "for more than 90 per cent of manufacturing industry, carbon costs will remain trivial compared to … other influences on international competitiveness."

Michael Grubb, chief economist at the Carbon Trust, said: "This analysis is a nail in the coffin for the myth that the EU Emissions Trading System presents a threat to overall business competitiveness."

Mr Neilson says: "One wonders how they can envisage cutting emissions, when the Roundtable says that here we don't have any options, only problems.

"New Zealanders want businesses to act to help manage climate change. A majority of business people also believe more economic opportunities will be created rather than removed by addressing climate change."

Mr Neilson says the Business Council – whose 66 member companies' annual sales equate to 34% of the gross domestic product – will make considered submissions on the Government emissions trading bill late this month.

"There are areas where the bill can be approved. But there is absolutely no doubt we need to put a price of carbon, cut our emissions – protect our trade prospects and encourage all other major emitting countries to do the same."


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