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Mallard: Kiwi business in Climate Neutral Network

Hon Trevor Mallard
Minister for the Environment

4 June 2008 Speech Notes

Embargoed until:12.20pm

Kiwi business join UN Climate Neutral Network

Environment Minister Trevor Mallard's speech to NZ meeting of the Climate Neutral Network, Meridian Energy head office, Wellington

Thank you for the invitation to speak at this gathering of the New Zealand members of the Climate Neutral Network, and thanks to Meridian for hosting this event.

It is a pleasure to be here today to hear first hand from the United Nations Environment Programme about the Climate Neutral Network. I'm also looking forward to hearing the presentations from the New Zealand companies that have joined up so far to this important network.

As you know, World Environment Day’s theme for 2008 is moving towards a low carbon economy and lifestyle.

This theme is highly relevant for New Zealand – not just because of the comprehensive work we are doing on climate change, but also because we were one of the first four countries to join the Climate Neutral Network, along with Costa Rica, Iceland and Norway.

New Zealand was one of the foundation members of the Climate Neutral Network launch at the Bali climate change conference by the United Nations Environment Programme. Climate Neutral Network was formally launched in Monaco in February this year. New Zealand was accepted as part of the network on the basis of it's aspirational goal of being the world's first truly sustainable nation. New Zealand's effort is backed by its comprehensive policy development including the development of an all sectors and all gases emissions trading scheme.

New Zealand participates in Climate Neutral Network as a means of encouraging others to take on actions to resolve one of the most significant global problems facing us as a nation - climate change.

As a member we use Climate Neutral Network to collaborate and share our experiences and learnings with other participating countries and cities.

The Climate Neutral Network website further allows us to show the world our efforts and to learn of others efforts.


I would like to pay tribute to the New Zealand businesses who have joined or intend to join the Climate Neutral Network on the back of their strategies for their own carbon emission reductions – and I hope other businesses will see you as role models, learn from your work, and follow your lead.

Some people are unfortunately somewhat blinkered when it comes to dealing with the reality of climate change – seeing it only as a cost, but not spotting the economic opportunities and spinoffs that can be grabbed as more and more consumers worldwide demand climate friendly goods and services.

Companies such as the ones here today, that seek to reduce their carbon emissions and embrace sustainability throughout their business, and that aim for carbon neutrality can offer a truly competitive edge against firms that do nothing about their pollution and waste.

Consumers are on watch on this issue which will become increasingly important for exporting countries like our own.

This network provides an opportunity for kiwi firms to show leadership, and to demonstrate at an international level how climate change can be tackled in practice and at the sharp end of doing business. The network also provides an opportunity to collaborate and brainstorm and innovate new ways of becoming climate neutral.

I am told that sixteen New Zealand businesses have already joined the network and more are in the process of applying for membership. Apparently this constitutes more than 50 per cent of business members of the whole network - so a strong kiwi business profile on climate change is certainly coming through and that is something to be proud of.

As well as our own State Owned Enterprises Meridian Energy and Contact Energy, another member of the network is our Crown Research Institute, Landcare Research, which has developed the carbon-neutral certification scheme, CarboNZero.

CarboNZero is a great example of how an organisation has identified an opportunity in the climate change space and is acting on it at a domestic and international level, and I’m looking forward to hearing from Ann Smith, the programme manager of CarboNZero, as part of this forum.

As you all know, the government has a multi-pronged plan of action to address climate change – the emissions trading scheme is an important part of this and aims to share and manage the costs of climate change fairly. There is also our energy strategy, and the support and funding that is going into science, innovation and research – especially on pastoral emissions. We are also working at the household level.

And there is also the Carbon Neutral Public Service programme launched last year. The programme is a world first for a public sector to move towards carbon neutrality. By 2012, six core government agencies are targeted to reach carbon neutrality, and the other 28 will have plans in place to move towards carbon neutrality at that time.

The Carbon Neutral Public Service involves a three-step process: greenhouse gas measurement, reduction and offsetting – and we want to ensure that the best practice approach and learnings that occur as part of the programme – will be shared and networked wider than the public sector and through the Climate Neutral Network.

The commitment in moving towards a low carbon economy is a long term one, not just something to embrace on World Environment Day. I congratulate those businesses which have already made this commitment and I look forward to seeing more New Zealand businesses follow suit.


ENDS

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