carbon zero act what does it mean for businesses news article on greenbusinesshq by carolyn cox sustainability consultant

The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament this week, setting out a plan for the next 30 years. The government has set a new emissions reduction target for all greenhouse gases, except methane, to net zero by 2050, in line with New Zealand’s Paris Agreement commitments.

The Bill also sets a target for 10 percent reduction in biological methane emissions by 2030, and aims for a provisional reduction ranging from 24 percent to 47 percent by 2050. Meaning our primary produce sector will need to continue to take action too.

Here’s a summary of what the Zero Carbon Bill will do:

  1. Create a commitment to implement action that means no more than 1.5 degrees of global warming.
  2. Legally commit the Government to reducing our carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 and biological methane emissions by 10% by 2030, with a further reduced range of between 24 – 47% by 2050.
  3. Set up an independent Climate Change Commission to support this transition. They will give independent advice on what needs to be done, by when, including revising emissions reduction targets if needed.
  4. Legally bind the Government to plan to adapt to the impacts of climate change that we are increasingly experiencing including sea level rise, severe storms, floods, fires and droughts.

Why do we need a Zero Carbon Commitment?

The language around Climate Change is changing, with both the UK and Scotland declaring climate change emergencies on the back of the school climate strikes rolling out across the world.

Greta Thundberg on School Strike Week 37. Image source: https://www.facebook.com/pg/gretathunbergsweden/

Swedish student Greta Thunberg, who sparked the strikes, has been challenging leaders around the world questioning the lack of action on climate change.

“Adults keep saying, ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel everyday. And then I want you to act… I want you to act as if your house is on fire because it is.”

Thunberg has just been listed on the Times list of the 100 most influential people for 2019.

A petition calling for New Zealand’s House of Representatives to support an immediate declaration of a state of emergency to combat climate change in New Zealand is currently open for signatures.

Why declare an emergency?

The United Nations says we could have just 11 years left to limit a climate change catastrophe. With most experts confirming we need to have fixed plans in place by 2020 to rachet down our emissions to zero by 2050. Making this nothing less than an emergency.

New Zealand’s latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows our emissions are still on the rise, underscoring why both New Zealand businesses and the Government need to take urgent action on climate change.

The Inventory shows New Zealand’s gross emissions increased by 2.2 percent between 2016 and 2017, and have increased by 23.1 percent between 1990 and 2017.

With plans now in place New Zealand businesses can now act with greater certainty as the plans for transitioning the nation to a carbon zero economy by 2050 firm up.

Many leaders from across New Zealand are attending the Just Transitions Summit in Taranaki this week. The Summit is exploring what a just transition to a low emissions future looks like in New Zealand, and what steps we need to take towards a new kind of zero carbon economy with good, high paying jobs.

At the New Zealand Property Summit earlier this year economist Shamubeel Eaqub talked about the loss of social fabric within New Zealand, our lack of ability to organise and a high level of inertia within the government in the context of transitioning to zero carbon buildings. What Eaqub did highlight however was that the workplace is one of the few remaining places where Kiwis can still come together to make a difference.

The 2018 Colmar Brunton Better Futures survey showed that 4 in 10 New Zealanders are increasingly committed to a sustainable lifestyle, up from 3 in 10 the year prior. With 55% of New Zealanders concerned about Climate Change up from 29% in 2011.

Meaning over half of your employees are likely to be concerned about climate change and at least 40% will be interested in sustainable solutions. At Green Business HQ we often find a pent up appetite for sustainability within businesses, with staff just waiting for permission to start making innovative changes. Becoming a zero carbon business is an exciting transition that you can involve staff, suppliers and customers from across your business in. Whether than be switching to an electric fleet or coming up with lower carbon product design solutions.

Top 5 Actions for Kiwi Businesses Serious About Climate Change

Here are our top 5 suggested actions for kiwi businesses serious about climate change and wanting to be a part of the global transition to a zero carbon economy:

  • Get Political – Back the Zero Carbon Bill – make sure you show the government that kiwi businesses support New Zealand’s commitment to zero carbon by 2050
  • Calculate – Your businesses carbon footprint. Get informed about where your carbon emissions lie
  • Manage – Create an emissions reduction management plan identifying the practical actions you will take to reduce your businesses carbon emissions
  • Identify Risks – Update your risk register to identify climate-related risks for your business, changes like increased storm events or sea level rise will impact most businesses – make adaptation to these risks a tangible part of your business strategy
  • Commit – Make a public commitment to becoming carbon zero by certifying and disclosing your carbon footprint and emission reduction targets

We all have a role to play, as individuals, as employees, in business and as community members – let’s all get behind the Carbon Zero Bill and make plans to become carbon zero now.