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Carbon Footprint Labels Could Have Major Impact

Carbon Footprint Labels Could Have Major Impact

An overnight move by the European Parliament to adopt a report which calls for .carbon footprint labels on all goods and services could have major implications for New Zealand's traders.

The climate change interim report, adopted by 566 votes to 61, says consumers must be given better information about the carbon footprint of goods and services, including imported goods and services.

The report's adoption does not make it law, but indicates a stance the EU is likely to pursue into policy, the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development says today.

"It sends a major wake up call to every New Zealand firm involved in our major trade with the EU," according to Business Council Chef Executive Peter Neilson.

New Zealand exports to the 27-nation bloc are worth more than $5.2 billion a year, or 15% of all exports. New Zealand imports from the EU are valued at about $6.9 billion, or 16.9% of all imports.

The report adopted by the EU also called for more stringent emission reduction targets than the EU's current 20% of 1990 levels by 2020, which it says it can now meet. The report warns human and commercial losses from global warming greater than 2 degrees need to be averted by setting even higher emission reduction targets.

Mr Neilson says the EU decision, and research released in trialing carbon labels on snack foods and other products in the UK which shows 70% of consumers are noticing the labels, shows the business here "hasn't a moment to lose" in getting ready to measure and cut the carbon footprint of their products and services.

Carbon neutrality measures have already been worth millions to some exports to EU countries. Consumers here may also react favourably to choose authentically carbon labeled imports from the EU.

"There's no delaying this major political and consumer trend.

"If companies are not already getting ready for carbon labelling in major markets, then their auditors, shareholders and capital providers will be shortly start demanding how this major new risk and opportunity is being managed, if they're not already.

"This is what brings talk of delaying New Zealand's response to climate change, and putting incentives into place to lower emissions, into stark contrast with the emerging and actual market reality.

"New Zealand and its businesses have to lead in managing our climate change response, to protect and enhance our trade and tourism opportunities," Mr Neilson says.

"Waiting for other countries to get further ahead of us is no answer. Innovating to lower carbon emissions and taking on the world in the new greener market is vital. Fortunately that's a course favoured by the vast majority of New Zealanders and business people here."


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