New Zealand is on a journey to low emissions because it's the right thing to do for future generations.
New Zealand also wants to build resilience to the impacts of climate change, to reduce waste, lessen our impact on the environment and sustain and enhance our economic and social wellbeing.
Some might say the metals industry, which contributes a share of the 6 per cent of total New Zealand CO2 emissions produced by industrial processors and product users, is a problem in this vision - keeping in mind, energy and transport produce 41 per cent.
Metals such as steel and aluminium are also infinitely recyclable and easily repurposed. Adopting more of these "circular economy" processes is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in some manufacturing sectors by 79 to 99 per cent.
True, there is not yet a commercially viable technology to make steel and aluminium without carbon. Emerging innovation is showing potential solutions, such as replacing coal with hydrogen, but it's a way off and, in the case of hydrogen, requires abundant reserves of cheap natural gas, which New Zealand no longer has.
Meantime, metals are a key ingredient in enabling our low-emissions and climate-resilient future. One hundred per cent renewable energy will require more wind turbines, solar and geothermal, all of which need metals.
We also need metals to upgrade our ageing water, energy and mass transit systems. Indeed, metals will be crucial to delivering on Budget 2019's $1 billion investment in KiwiRail, as well as development of the Auckland City Rail Link - both pivotal to reducing transport emissions.
If New Zealand cuts metals production to reduce domestic emissions, we would need to import a lot of steel and aluminium to meet demand - exporting our problem and creating more emissions to boot from the freight.
We are already importing a lot of steel and generally have no idea about its embodied emissions, environmental credentials and working conditions of the businesses that produce them.
New Zealand metals manufacturers have Environmental Product Declarations, environmental choice or CEMARS certification and exemplary health and safety and workforce conditions.
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NZ Steel's Glenbrook plant generates up to 70 per cent of its electricity on site from co-generation and waste products such as gases are harvested, separated and sold.
Further, metals manufacturing generates more than 30,000 full-time equivalent jobs in small to medium-sized businesses in our regions, generating some $3.3b in GDP annually.
Using more steel in our buildings will also help keep our trees in the ground to embody carbon. Research has shown that trees grow faster as they age, sequestering more carbon than smaller trees, and faster.
Yet, New Zealand is harvesting plantation forests at around 18 years old to meet export demand and for use in low-value construction uses.
Metals such as steel and aluminium are also infinitely recyclable and easily re-used and repurposed so don't end up in our landfills. Adopting more of these "circular economy" processes is also estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in some manufacturing sectors by 79 to 99 per cent, according to a recent report from United Nations Environment Programme.
So, there's a clear role for New Zealand's metals industry in a better future.
The industry supports the Zero Carbon Bill and is ready to work with the Government to ensure we are part of the solution.
What will that take? We need to see policy developed which ensures New Zealand metals products are treated equally in the carbon market. Imported metal products should be subjected to the same carbon emissions taxes as those made here.
We would also like to see support programmes for small and medium-sized businesses to become carbon zero, excluding raw materials.
To reduce some CO2 emissions, the industry could invest in technology to increase use of scrap metals in producing steel with some incentivisation. There is a lot of potential given we currently export most of our scrap such as car bodies.
Indeed, there's enough steel in six scrapped cars to make studs for a typical 600sq m house, without the need for chemical treatment as steel is not affected by insects, dry or wet rot or fungi.
Last, but not least, there is the innovation opportunity. New Zealand pioneered the process of making iron from iron sand so we should be looking to develop new technologies to remove fossil fuel from the equation.
The Government has signalled it wants to work with industry in moving away from fossil fuels. The Wellbeing Budget has delivered $27 million to set up the National New Energy Development centre to work with industry in testing and trialling technologies. And a further $20m over four years to establish a new science research fund for cutting-edge energy technology.
The reality is that global demand for steel and metals like aluminium is growing and production will continue as long as the world needs it. It's about making it as sustainably as possible. As an industry we support that journey and are on board to play our part.
• Nick Collins is chief executive of Metals New Zealand