Back in 2001, carbon wasn't the dirty word it is today. But Enviro-Mark Solutions (then carboNZero holdings) already had the reduction of New Zealand emissions in its sights.
Under the guidance of chief executive Dr Ann Smith, the organisation has grown up and out -- not only in membership numbers and the types of audit and certifications it offers, but also with an eye to ambitious international expansion.
Now active in five countries and able to audit in 17, Enviro-Mark Solutions has more than 300 clients with a carbon footprint of over 182 million tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalents). Having issued more than 2400 certifications, its clients have now offset almost 600,000 tonnes of CO2.
The certifications dealing specifically with carbon are the CEMARS and carboNZero programmes. CEMARS participants measure emissions with a view to reduction, while carboNZero members measure, reduce and offset their emissions to become carbon neutral.
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Enviro-Mark certified organisations have developed an environmental management system to reduce environmental impacts caused by their operations, while Energy-Mark-certified members have developed an energy management system to reduce energy use and improve performance.
While many of its 100-plus UK clients have reduced emissions by between 10 and 40 per cent in absolute terms, Smith is especially impressed by New Zealand clients who have similar levels of emission reductions, cost savings and innovation.
"UK companies face pressure to reduce emissions driven by compliance, investors and supply chains. In New Zealand, with few policy drivers, emissions reduction through voluntary action is driven by company sustainability culture -- because it is the right thing to do," says Smith.
"If you look at the international Carbon Disclosure Project, which focuses on climate risk for investors, New Zealand is one of the poorest participants. Many boards aren't up to speed sufficiently on climate risks to drive the agenda. Considering all of that, the NZ companies we work with are amazing."
Smith says New Zealand clients essentially impose an internal carbon tax on themselves when they are carboNZero certified, and use this to build a business case for projects that reduce emissions.
"We'd like to see this voluntary action recognised by the Government. At the end of the day, whether you contribute through compliance or voluntary action, you are still helping to lower national emissions."