Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.
As each day passes, the risks associated with higher greenhouse gas levels increases significantly. The world as a whole, must reduce emissions by 80% by 2050, in order to significantly lessen this risk. Although this sounds like a monumental task, a recent report from the World Resources Institute outlines how this can be achieved. And it’s profitable. In the US alone, an investment of around $320 billion in sustainable practices would be required. The benefits however, far outweigh this, with reduced expenditure on fossil fuels of $65 billion by 2020, rising to over $700 billion by 2040. Additional benefits through improvements in air quality and an estimated additional 1 million jobs created in the industry make this a compelling path to tread.
In order to reach the world’s global emission reduction targets, increased use of technology is going to be essential. Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) is one example of this, by maximising the use of micro-grids, distributed generation, battery storage and load management. This provides local security of supply supplementing the traditional large central generation and distribution system. The net outcome is an enhancement in system reliability and redundancy, which increases the total overall generation capacity, without having to construct new large generation plants. VPP integrates systems through the use of technology, for example using demand response measures such as turning off the electric car charging or discharging battery storage into the grid at periods of peak demand,
or putting a piece of equipment into low power mode, etc.
Our next article addresses a change in thinking between continents, specifically the difference in culture of the US and Europe on climate change. European culture appears to be leading the world in sustainable business, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. Not only accepting of climate change, their culture exhibits a moral obligation to make a difference for the greater good. This kind of collective thinking, albeit at odds with neoliberalism, is one we would encourage to see adopted all around the world, specifically by governments. A collective thinking like this, that may just allow us as a species to survive on this planet.
One way to encourage collective thinking is to increase transparency and accountability. The new GRI Standards (from GRI G4) are intended to do just that. Although there are some major changes, a good part of the new standards use the same language as GRI G4. The keys to success under the new standards involves expanding the management approach, ensuring adherence to reporting principles, understanding the value chain and refining data collection. Doing these will definitely add significant value to the sustainability program and increased transparency with stakeholders.
We next look at young New Zealand film makers, who are presenting their works for inclusion in the Reel Earth Young Filmmakers Awards. The films must promote conservation, sustainability or deal with other environmental issues. We believe these film projects aren’t just produced to win a prize (although nice), but the participants have real concerns and want to clearly get their message out. We salute these children and young adults, and their environmental awareness and believe it can only be seen as a positive for New Zealand society.
Tourism, which play’s such a large part in many countries overall job creation and incomes, also play’s a very large part in New Zealand, in very much the same way.Our next article looks at the environmental impacts of such activities and particularly if environmental impacts were such that these tourist activities could no longer take place. Imagine no snow for skiing in winter or beaches stripped of sand or under water. Climate change can certainly impact on these physical manifestations and in turn, no staff required, i.e. unemployment.
But it’s not just major impacts like this that can affect tourism. The sheer volume of visitors can also impact on, and overwhelm, what were once pristine wilderness areas, just through high levels of foot traffic, rubbish discarded, etc. How tourism and nature can co-exist needs to be carefully considered to find balance.
Ever wondered what the New Zealand government is doing to address national and global emission commitments on the back of the Paris agreement? It turns out they are seeking to offset global warming emissions by investing approximately $5 billion in overseas green projects, which on paper will offer some big financial savings, as opposed to investing in initiatives in New Zealand. We can’t help but feel we have a global responsibility to address our own domestic emissions before those overseas. It is however a start…
Whilst our government is claiming that reining in domestic agricultural emissions is too difficult a challenge, this is not the case elsewhere. Take, for example, the US State of California, where Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that regulates heat trapping gases in the dairy industry. State regulators want more farmers to reduce emissions using methane bio-digesters, which capture methane from decomposing manure gathered from feed pads, store this methane in large tanks and then use this gas for the generation of electricity. Whilst possibly only lending itself economically feasible to large scale factory dairy farms, there has to be some take away messages for New Zealand in this.
Our final article this week is a great story showing how something that seems so small on its own, could make quite a difference in the big picture – those pesky little plastic stickers that you find on your fruit may soon be a thing of the past. Laser marks on fruit and veges are starting, at least in Sweden, to replace these stickers. The initial outlay for the equipment is quite large, but as with many sustainable options available, the benefits do accumulate over time. The more products it can be used on the better; it will just take acceptance from consumers to make this happen. With less plastic used and wasted, and less emissions and energy costs as additional benefits, we hope this initiative catches on.
Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and we look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.