Thursday, August 4, 2011 by
This week saw the7thAustralia and New Zealand Climate Change and Business Conference come to Wellington – although I found the conference title ironic given the high percentage of government employees and lobbyists in attendance. Although not exactly stimulating, or encouraging for that matter, it was interesting to get the insight into how government operates on this level.
During the conference I commonly had the words of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke repeating over and over in my head - that the last people on earth we should get to come toagreements on climate changeare politicians. This was proven when the New Zealand Minister for Climate Change declared that the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme a resounding success and was responsible for the years reductions in New Zealand’s carbon output, when of course the reality is that the damper year providing more hydro electrical generation and Christchurch’s need for energy was significantly reduced given the earthquake. This statement was also contradicted by the majority of lobbyists (who should be very pleased with their work in this area to date) who all pretty much admitted that the current price of carbon is a long way from facilitating behavioural change or providing a business case for green technological investment outside of business as usual.
The more cynical view that was permeating is that the New Zealand ETS is pretty much a tax and that it is unlikely to ever provide a market mechanism for carbon reduction.
One term that was mentioned over and over was “complimentary measures”. A more common term for this phrase is voluntary action on climate change, and it’s regularity of use was encouraging to those, like ourselves, who operate in the space (but also a damning indictment of the ability for regulatory policy to deliver the low carbon economy on its own).
In the voluntary space there were presentations from a number of people on a range of subjects. Such as the newly introduced AustralianCarbon Farming Initiativethat if managed correctly could provide positive change in on-farm carbon management,carboNZeroandCEMARSthe certification schemes owned by the New Zealand government for voluntary action on climate change and also theCarbon Reduction Labelwhich is now being rolled out across Australasia on the success of the scheme in the UK grocery sector.
One point that is still evident to me is that in the voluntary space there is still a real lack of harminisation and recognition between programmes. It has been a 5 year crusade of mine to get Landcare (carboNZero and CEMARS) and the Carbon Trust to have recognition of each others programmes and therefore reduce the compliance costs for those companies who wish to take a market by market approach for a given environmental certification logo.
This harminisation, or recognition, has not been forthcoming because these programmes revenue and value propositions have been built around competing proprietary brands. This adds considerable costs to companies, such as The New Zealand Wine Company, who want to use a different certification brands in different countries, because of marketing and customer imperatives.
We recognized that this was going to be an issue some time ago and this is why we have been building and developing IP in ourbarefootTMtools and models. barefootTM has been designed to provide economies of scale in the data quantification costs for organizations wishing to have a flexible marketing approach. We see this quantification flexibility as integral to our business as an independent consultancy, especially as it would seem that the amount of proprietary schemes available globally, as well as in New Zealand, is growing not shrinking.
On other matters, the coffee provided at the conference by Westpac (CEMARS certified) was exceptional and was served in reusable take home cups.