As little as 10 years ago, it was commonplace for large corporates looking for brownie points to claim environmental stewardship credentials.

These days, being seen to be green isn't so much a leg-up for a brand as a source of risk if the commitment isn't there.

Take, for example, the 60-strong Climate Leaders Coalition, established earlier this year by a cohort of industry heavyweights led by petrol retailer Z Energy's Mike Bennetts and including Fonterra, Toyota, and Air New Zealand — all major contributors in their own ways to greenhouse gas emissions.

The group's credibility depends on its members both committing to, measuring and reporting on a set of three core commitments, consistent with the 2015 Paris global climate change action agreement.


They must:

● Measure and publicly report their carbon footprint;
● Set an emissions reduction target consistent with keeping within a 2 degrees Celsius increase in global temperatures; and
● Work with suppliers to reduce emissions.

They will also be sharing best practice case studies on the coalition's portal. Bennetts says there's a queue of would-be members, but not all can make the necessary commitments.

"They say 'I really want to join but I haven't set a target yet'. Well, if you haven't set a target that's in line with the Paris agreement, good for you, but you're not part of the coalition."

From there, it's up to each company to report in its own way and publish its results to the coalition website. Since the coalition has no staff, it's basically up to data nerds to work out who's keeping their word.

As membership grows, it's likely non-members will start being asked why their names aren't there.

For example, the BNZ and Westpac are members, but not so far ANZ. Electricity companies Meridian and Contact are on the list, but not Genesis or Mercury. Z's main rival, BP, isn't a member.

The coalition is also about to start urging its members to put their money where their mouths are by backing commercially viable innovations that can help combat climate change.

"The concept is we think the best contribution we can make as companies to the innovative ideas in this space is to be a customer of those ideas," says Bennetts, who expects announcements on a new innovation initiative within a couple of months.

"Often companies have a great idea but they can't get capital because no one is buying their product," he says. "So what we're looking to do is create an environment within which these great ideas, that are already there, can secure capital and a customer commitment."