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Self interest will drive NZ response to climate

Self interest will drive NZ response to climate change

Self interest and profit will drive adaptation to and collaboration on managing the major climate change issues facing the country.

The Chief Executive of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, Peter Neilson, says in a speech, delivered at a World Wildlife Fund series on climate change in Wellington, that businesses and political leaders will be doing themselves and New Zealand a service if they seize major opportunities arising from climate change.

Mr Neilson whose council's members' sales equate to 28% of gross domestic product says businesses should be actively looking for developments which not only tackle climate change, but offer huge opportunities for New Zealand.

"Once a carbon price is in the economy with multi party support, business will take climate change policy seriously and begin adopting lower-carbon technologies," Mr Neilson says.

Just as combined cycle gas turbines and hybrid vehicles came out of the oil shocks, major new technologies and opportunities are emerging which will help manage the serious emerging risks from climate change.

These include capturing and storing carbon emissions from energy generation and other activities; microbes in sheep and cattle which lower methane emissions; amoeba that eat heavy metal, and algae producing bio fuel from sewage, a New Zealand world-first.

Mr Neilson says this coming "virtuous collision" between the self interest of individuals, business and political leaders will deliver profits, better health and an improved quality of life. In UMR nationwide polling for the Business Council, some 49% say they are more likely to vote for a party which places an emphasis on preserving the New Zealand quality of life.

New Business Council research also shows New Zealand business decision makers overwhelmingly expect business to act not only to generate profits for investors, but also in the public good. (86% support this view, 10% oppose in a survey of 400 ShapeNZ decision maker respondents conducted between 27 July and 8 August 2006).

"It's clear the first movers will be the winners in every field, including business and politics. It is said you get agreement where self interest coincides. The massive implications of climate change will impact on the self interest of every person and shareholder in New Zealand," Mr Neilson says.

The Business Council wants the Government to open a trading market for greenhouse gas emission credits and agrees entirely with significant comments made last week by the Minister Responsible for Climate Change, Hon David Parker, that the nation's climate change response should start where people are at and include practical steps.

The Business Council wants this response to include policies like cash incentives resulting in a major 430,000 boost in low-emission, fuel efficient vehicle sales over the next five years and a ramp up of the home insulation programme to improve more than 400,000 drafty, damp illness-causing homes. Measures like this will have significant impacts on air quality and health while also lowering emissions.

"Kiwis will also understand down-to-earth practical measures like this and back those parties which get behind them," Mr Neilson says.


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