Climate Leaders Coalition is creating action that will significantly reduce NZ's carbon gas emissions, reports Graham Skellern.
Many people are sceptical that the New Zealand environment will be carbon neutral by the middle of this century. A group including some of the country's biggest corporates has set plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prove their doubters wrong.
The Climate Leaders Coalition, established in July, now comprises 70 members representing 50 per cent of New Zealand's emissions, mainly carbon dioxide. These companies and organisations such as Otago University and Auckland Council are working closely together to share information and find solutions for significantly reducing the carbon emissions.
"No one can solve the problem on their own — it requires collaboration across the board including government and funders," says coalition convenor Mike Bennetts, chief executive of Z Energy.
"How do we scale up biofuels and hydrogen, how do we stop cows from belching — we can contribute to innovation and help achieve technology breakthroughs. Technology is exponential, who knows where it will be in 2035. The Internet didn't exist 20 years ago, and the iPhone only came in 10 years ago."
Bennetts says each company in the coalition has integrity and is committed to reducing gas emissions. Abbie Reynolds, Executive Director of the Sustainable Business Council, says the CEOs on the coalition are "pretty action-oriented and they are looking for solutions and capital investment.
"They see climate change as a competitive threat and also an opportunity to innovate, access new markets and increase prosperity."
New Zealand may be taking a lead in the climate change battle but a recent IAG-Ipsos opinion poll showed many people weren't convinced.
Among the 1000 respondents, 84 per cent thought we can reduce climate change, but 60 per cent were unclear whether we will do so, and only 10 per cent believe we will take appropriate action.
The Labour-led Coalition Government will soon be introducing the Zero Carbon Bill to drive meaningful climate change action in New Zealand. The Act is likely to commit the country to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and set a legally binding pathway to this target.
Bennett says he's optimistic about meeting the 2050 target. "If you look at it now, you may think I'm a dreamer. But we have to meet the target or else the world is in deep trouble."
The Climate Leaders Coalition members have committed to:
● Measuring their greenhouse gas emission and publicly reporting them.
● Setting a public emissions reduction target consistent with keeping (global) warning below 2 degrees C, in line with the Paris Agreement.
● Working with suppliers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
New Zealand consumes nearly 9 billion litres of liquid fossil fuel in a year, equivalent to five litres a day for everyone living here. Transport and agriculture are the heaviest contributions to the emissions.
Case studies of the measures being taken by companies to reduce emissions are being posted on the coalition website — "we can all learn from one another," says Bennetts.
The coalition is also encouraging integrated reporting — the global standard for measuring the company's level of social responsibility, its economic value and its environmental impact. Z Energy, which has reduced its gas emissions by 30 per cent, has taken a lead on integrated reporting.
Other major companies have set strong targets. Air New Zealand wants to stabilise emissions through carbon neutral growth post 2020. New Zealand Post has established a decarbonisation fund and says it will be carbon neutral by 2030. Ports of Auckland is planning to reach net zero emissions by 2040 and Fonterra says it will reach a similar target for its global operations by 2050.
Synlait has set goals of an on-farm 35 per cent reduction in total greenhouse gases per kilogram of milk solids by 2028, and 50 per cent off-farm that include manufacturing processes and supply chain.
Numerous initiatives under way
Z Energy invested $26 million to build a biodiesel plant and associated infrastructure at Wiri and supply selected Z service stations and truck stops.
The lower carbon biodiesel is made from inedible animal tallow (fat) and the plant will produce up to 20 million litres a year with the potential to double the production. Z is investigating other alternatives to fossil fuels.
Synlait is installing New Zealand's first electrode boiler in its advanced liquids plant in Canterbury. Running on renewable electricity, this technology will prevent the emissions equivalent of 9600 households a year when compared with a coal boiler.
Energy company Vector is building New Zealand's largest commercial battery in Warkworth to accommodate the area's growth in a less disruptive, more cost-effective way. This saves 19km of upgrades to poles and wires along SH 1.
It is converting its Auckland fleet to electric vehicles and nationally reducing emissions from fuel use by 6 per cent by focusing on reducing idling time, better route scheduling and increased awareness of emissions relating to fuel consumption.
Vector is promoting its solar and battery system — the Sustainable Coastlines' Flagship Education Centre in Wynyard Quarter runs on this system and generates 105 per cent of the build's energy needs. It is the 16th building of its type in the world.
The system also sustains a Ngati Whatua development of 30 homes, last year saving an average $800 per household on power bills.
Vector is also developing a two-way vehicle-to-home charger that transforms electric vehicles into mobile power sources.
This means you could drive home and cook your meal using the car battery.
New Zealand Post has introduced Norwegian Paxster electric delivery vehicles (buggies), which enable posties to carry and distribute 200kg of parcels and mail at the same time. It is looking at introducing electric vans in its courier and Rural fleets.
KiwiRail's Driver Advisory System has saved 4 million litres of diesel in one year. KiwiRail partnered with Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority to set an energy reduction target of 73.5 GWh a year by June 2020 — at June 2018 it achieved 64 per cent of the target that is focused on inter-islander ships and trains.
Auckland Council, in conjunction with its council-controlled organisations Watercare, Auckland Transport and Panuku Development, is increasing the use of communication technologies to reduce travel requirements and transitioning its fleet to electric vehicles.
The council is improving the energy efficiency of its buildings, including saving 414 tonnes of carbon per year at its head office in Albert St.
It is transitioning diesel trains to electric power, replacing street lighting with LEDs, changing wastewater treatment processes to capture greenhouse gases, and using biogas to generate electricity.
Ports of Auckland is floodlighting its general cargo area with LEDs, saving 1.17 gigawatt hours. It is also recapturing all the methyl bromide gas used for container fumigation — the fumigant is toxic to humans and depletes the ozone layer.
Port of Tauranga has just received its certification under the Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme, which provides the platform to accurately measure carbon emissions and set targets for reduction.
Its straddle carrier fleet is transitioning to electric models, and the electricity generated from cranes would be recycled.
Rail-mounted gantries in future terminal expansion will be electric, and the company is also replacing its vehicle fleet with electric or hybrid models.
The Warehouse has installed public electric vehicle charging stations at 24 of its stores across New Zealand.
Since 2012 Westpac has lent $1.7 billion to businesses that reduce negative environmental impacts including renewable energy, green buildings, forestry, low carbon transport and waste reduction.
"Our 2020 target commits us to making up to $2 billion available to environmental solutions," the bank says.
There are 13 members in the Climate Leaders' Coalition leadership group.
They are: Air New Zealand, Fonterra, IAG, KiwiRail, Ngai Tahu Holdings, NZ Post, Ports of Auckland, Spark, Toyota, Vector, The Warehouse, Westpac and Z Energy.
What is Z Energy doing?
Mike Bennetts says one of the market spaces the company is actively investigating as part of its "What is Next" strategy is future fuels — focusing on opportunities to adopt low to zero carbon emission products.
"This space covers a wide range of technologies that we are actively exploring, from advanced biofuels through to hydrogen fuel cell technology, as a more recent emerging prospect for the heavy transport task.
"Following the recent $26m investment in New Zealand's largest commercial scale biodiesel plant at Wiri, we remain committed to offering real choices to customers to meet the carbon zero challenge.
"In terms of Z's response to meeting the Carbon Zero target in New Zealand; we are focusing on decarbonising our and others' businesses, and using less and wasting less in our own operations. What this looks like in action includes:
● We've built New Zealand's biggest commercial-scale bio-diesel plant, in Wiri, South Auckland, with the capacity to produce 20m litres of sustainable bio-diesel per annum
● We've installed 7 EV fast-chargers across our network
● We've invested in adjacent industries, such as Mevo and Flick Electric, to prepare for a more sustainable transport fleet.
● We've reduced the waste going to landfill by 70%, in part by installing 230 on-site separated forecourt bins, introducing fully compostable coffee cups, and removing single-use plastic bags.
We chart the progress of our actions in our Annual Reports, which are both GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) and IR (Integrated Reporting) standard reports."