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New Zealanders Call For More Climate Action As Urgency Grows, Survey Finds

Around half of New Zealanders are more worried about climate change following this year’s severe weather events, and the majority are looking for affordable ways to take action in their own lives, according to new research from Westpac NZ.

A survey of 1,142 Westpac customers found that 64% are concerned about the impacts of climate change in New Zealand, but only 31% believe we’re doing enough as a country to curb its effects.

An encouraging 93% are making at least some effort to live more sustainably, with recycling, composting and making homes more energy-efficient the most common methods.

Westpac NZ Chief Executive Catherine McGrath says the public clearly feels more urgency around climate action than ever before, and the bank has a range of options to help them reduce their carbon footprint in a cost-effective way.

“It’s great to see Kiwis so engaged on the issue of climate change, but time and cost considerations are holding them back from doing more,” Ms McGrath says.

“Only a quarter of respondents say they’d be prepared to pay more for higher-emissions goods and services, such as petrol and freight, to help fund initiatives to reduce New Zealand’s overall climate impact. Conversely, 63% say they’d consider or are considering making use of an interest-free loan to make their home and transportation more energy-efficient, with 4% already doing so.

“Banks are stepping up with products and solutions to help people make meaningful changes in an affordable way. At Westpac we’ve developed low-and-no-interest loans to help customers future-proof their homes and transport options while potentially saving on petrol and energy bills.

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“This year we’ve also launched products to support Agri and Business customers by aligning their borrowing costs to sustainability performance.”

Westpac is growing its lending across a range of sustainable loan products, as it looks to support customers and align its lending portfolios with a lower emissions economy, including:

  • $110m Greater Choices home loan top ups (formerly Warm Up) since launching in 2020;
  • 1.0b in Sustainable Farm Loans since launching in June;
  • $41m in Sustainable Business Loans since launching in June;
  • $13.7m in EV Personal Loans, financing more than 500 EV purchases since launching in 2022.

The bank has also enabled $11.7bn in sustainable finance since 2021, through sustainable lending and bonds, reaching its $10bn target two years ahead of time.

Westpac has just released its annual Sustainability Report and Climate Report, which detail the bank’s exposure to climate risks and its efforts to manage those risks and support customers, as well as broader initiatives to build stronger and healthier communities.

“We see our role as stepping up to help our customers take action in their own lives on issues that matter to them,” Ms McGrath says.

“These reports outline not just how we’re supporting customers and communities, but our assessment of the challenges and opportunities that complex issues like climate change provide.

“We’ve reduced our own operational emissions by 36.8% from our 2019 baseline, grown our ESG and sustainability teams and upskilled our bankers to better support customers and stakeholders on their sustainability journeys.

“More broadly, we’re helping communities tackle a range of key issues, such as improving housing affordability, growing financial capability through our Managing Your Money workshops, and supporting people in vulnerable circumstances through our Extra Care Team.

“We know there’s lots more we can be doing, and we’ll continue to look for other ways to create a better future for Aotearoa as we look to 2024 and beyond.”

Published alongside the full report, Westpac’s Sustainability Snapshot highlights the bank’s key initiatives over the past year.

Editor’s note: The climate change survey was conducted on The Westpac Customer Forum from 19 to 30 October 2023. It was completed by 1,142 Westpac NZ Customers, aged between 25 and 84, with the margin of error 2.9% at a 95% level of confidence.

Key survey findings and tables:

  • 63% are either very or quite concerned about the impacts of climate change in New Zealand;
  • Only 31% of customers think New Zealand is doing enough to curb the main effects of climate change;
  • 46% say recent weather events have increased their concern about climate change, 51% say they feel the same;
  • 25% are prepared to pay more for higher-emissions goods and services to help reduce New Zealand’s climate impact;
  • 93% of customers make a lot, a little, an OK, or a good effort to live a sustainable lifestyle;
  • 70% are considering or would consider a government subsidy for energy-efficient goods and services; 6% are already doing so;
  • 63% are considering or would consider an interest-free loan for energy-efficient goods and services, 4% are already doing so;
  • 50% are considering, planning to, or already have purchased an EV.
  • Customers who aren’t taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint cited difficulty knowing if claims are valid (33%), not knowing enough about what’s available (24%) and affordability (21%).


How concerned are you about the impacts of climate change in New Zealand?

Very concernedQuite concernedSlightly concernedNot at all concernedDon’t know
33%31%26%10%1%

Have the recent weather events changed how you feel about climate change?

More concernedNo changeLess concerned
46%51%3%


Do you believe New Zealand is doing enough to curb the main effects of climate change?

YesNoDon’t know
31%48%21%


Do you think the government should take stronger action on climate change?

YesNoDon’t know
56%29%15%


Would you be prepared to pay more for higher-emissions goods and services such as petrol, freight, some energy intensive products like international goods, meat and dairy, to help reduce New Zealand’s climate impact?

YesNoDon’t know
25%59%16%


How would you rate your level of effort in living a sustainable lifestyle?

No effort, I don’t try at all3%
Little effort, I don’t really try5%
A bit of effort, I try not not hard22%
OK effort, I try44%
Good effort, I try hard21%
A lot of effort, as much as I can6%


Are you taking steps in your own live to reduce your carbon footprint?

YesNoConsidering taking steps
66%18%16%


If yes, what steps are you taking or considering taking?

Recycling94%
Making my home more energy efficient72%
Composting59%
Using the car less58%
Buying fewer goods52%
Eating more sustainably-sourced food49%
Choosing more environmentally friendly products43%
Holidaying local instead of overseas32%
Taking public transport23%
Buying large ticket items to reduce transport emissions21%
Choosing ethical investment funds17%
Other8%


If no, why are you not taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint?

Difficulty knowing if sustainable claims are valid33%
Don’t care about or believe in climate change28%
Don’t know enough about what’s available24%
Can’t afford it21%
Sustainable options are too hard to find12%
Other16%


If you were offered an interest free loan for making energy efficient home improvements or to purchase a more energy efficient vehicle, would you make use of it?

Yes46%
No33%
Currently considering it17%
Already have4%


If the Government were offering subsidies for energy efficient goods or services, such as EVs or energy efficiency improvements to your home or business, would you make use of a subsidy?

Yes55%
No24%
Currently considering it15%
Already have6%


Are you intending to start using or purchase any of the following in the near future?

 YesNoConsidering itAlready have
Home insulation8%11%9%71%
A heating system5%13%7%73%
A vegetable garden14%16%13%56%
A more energy-efficient appliance15%32%23%20%
An electric or hybrid vehicle11%45%28%12%
Rain water tanks6%46%21%18%
Renewable energy (e.g. solar)7%46%29%9%
An electric bicycle5%66%16%9%

© Scoop Media

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