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Collaboration at carbon footprinting workshop

11 September 2008

Cross-sector collaboration at carbon footprinting workshop

More than 100 participants from government, industry and research institutes from around New Zealand attended a first of its kind workshop in Wellington this week to learn, share and look into strategies on greenhouse gas (GHG) footprinting.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) organised the inaugural workshop to outline New Zealand’s GHG Footprinting Strategy and present the work of carbon footprinting projects currently underway. Participants were also provided with an overview of international carbon footprinting standards development and given the opportunity to hear from global retailers who are driving market change.

``With New Zealand’s existing reputation as a clean and green producer, carbon footprinting can leverage us to have a competitive advantage. This workshop has given all of us better insight into where the world is heading on carbon footprinting and what we must do to be prepared,’’ MAF’s Deputy Director General Policy, Paul Stocks, told participants at the workshop on Monday.

``To do this, we must have a collaborative approach to driving the GHG Strategy, play an active role in the development of international carbon footprinting standards, and develop our own systems for carbon footprinting that are practical, credible and applicable.’’
Carbon footprinting projects are a key action under the New Zealand GHG Footprinting Strategy. The Strategy has provided funding for seven carbon footprinting projects in the dairy, kiwifruit, wine, lamb, forestry, berry fruit and onion sectors.

``The interesting thing about New Zealand’s approach is that we are working with the producers to develop carbon footprinting methods that are tailored specifically for each sector but also integrate to an overall method that can be applied across sectors and markets. This bottom-up approach makes New Zealand stand out as a key model in the international arena,’’ says Alison Watson, MAF’s coordinator for the GHG Footprinting Strategy.

The GHG Working Group is working actively to provide input into international carbon footprinting standards currently being drafted by organisations such as the UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the International Standards Organisation (ISO) and World Resources Institute (WRI).

``We are working closely with these organisations to ensure New Zealand is heard and has an input into developing standards that will be fair, credible and practical,’’ Ms. Watson said.

The Working Group is also closely watching the approaches taken by large global retailers such as Tesco (UK) and Wal-Mart (US).

According to Ms Watson, global retail chains such as Tesco and Wal-Mart are key drivers of carbon footprinting at product level. These major retailers are looking at how they can drive increasing efficiency across the supply chain and do their bit in tackling climate change.

``We are very excited about what this strategy can deliver and should not underestimate the benefits it could have for New Zealand. It all about being a leader in delivering to market trends and demands, maintaining a competitive advantage and also about doing smart business,’’ Mr Stocks said in his closing address at the workshop.

``While the GHG Footprinting Strategy is still evolving, a lot has already been achieved – collaboration is evidently the right approach.’’
Carbon footprinting is a dynamic trend that is clearly here to stay – it is what will drive our access to markets in future.’’

The New Zealand GHG Footprinting Strategy was developed late last year and is a collaborative initiative between government, industry and research institutes.


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