Welcome to our 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 articles to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.
It appears that much of the world has hit an inflection point and that decarbonisation is finally happening. Here in NZ we are still a bit behind the ball, but we can also draw on the experiences of other countries to find ideas how to reduce agricultural emissions. We also have articles about preserving forest carbon sinks, and even how to sink our personal carbon when we pass and how to reduce carbon in our daily lives.
Whilst the Paris Agreement came into effect on 4th November 2016, it was without the detailed ‘rulebook’ – the operating manual, the deal needs when it enters force in 2020. Our opening article reviews the recent progress by more than 3,000 diplomats and observers in their negotiations on finalising the rulebook. We are encouraged by the slow rate of progress, as it means they are serious in having a ‘rulebook’ that is clear, detailed and with teeth.
Business also continues to increase their environmental disclosures. CDP or what used to be known as the Carbon Disclosure Project started 17 years ago and has now grown to more than 800 investors with $100 trillion in managed assets. Today more than 6,500 companies, representing greater than 60 percent of the market capitalization of the world’s 30 largest stock exchanges, report nearly a fifth of the world’s GHG emissions through CDP.
Perhaps this corporate groundswell will also take off in New Zealand. At the moment New Zealand will fail to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement and if business as usual continues, will face a liability in 2030. It is with this in mind, that the Impact Investing Network is calling on the NZ business sector to adopt a social purpose and demonstrate leadership for investment but also ‘prosperity and security of their fellow citizens’.
Whilst New Zealand Greenhouse Gas emissions have continued to rise – mainly from agriculture and transport, this is not the case in the United Kingdom, where their dairy industry has reduced GHG emissions by 24% since 2008. Over this time, water efficiency has also improved by 24%, energy efficiency by 18% and over 70% of UK dairy farmers are reportedly taking action on reducing GHG emissions.
On the surface, forest conservation efforts appear to be economic trade-offs for the surrounding communities. However, the UN has found that the sustainable use of forests, through their forest concessions, offer multiple socio-economic and environmental benefits and increase the value of standing forests for present and future generations. It turns out that saving the forests can enrich the local communities, making the world a better place for everyone!
One of the best ways to protect forests, their carbon sequestering benefits, is to use them. New research from the International Paper and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) alliance shows that well-managed forests often can store as much carbon as unmanaged forests, making innovative forest management methods a key solution to fighting climate change while supporting local communities and making a profit.
If there’s one thing we can be sure of in life, is there is usually some type of funeral service at the end of it. The funeral industry is now looking to cater to the increasing number that want their remains dealt with in an environmentally sound way. From willow coffins, to low carbon flat packed poplar coffins or water cremation. An increasing number of options are becoming available.
Mass transit is good for everyone, not just those that use it! It can raise residential property values, as well as transporting many people, mass transit helps lower emissions, by limiting the number of people that would otherwise travel by private motor vehicle. They might not be perfect but they do have some positive benefits.
In Wellington today, it’s hard to imagine the uptake of home solar installations being main stream, but in California it will be a main stream requirement from 2020. As the state works towards its goal of cutting emissions, it’s intended that roof top solar will play a big part in achieving reductions. While adding approximately $10,000 to a house build, this would be offset by an estimated $19,000 saving in energy and maintenance over a 30 year period.
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.