New Zealand Needs To Be A Leader In The Global Shift To Green Growth

Wednesday 7 September 2011, 5:16PM
By JML Communications

Pure Advantage, the organisation championing a green growth paradigm shift for New Zealand - says that the country, rather than investing in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, should be strategically positioning itself to benefit from the global shift to a more sustainable, low carbon, green growth by utilising it’s clean and green competitive advantage.

Last week the Government released the New Zealand Energy Strategy and the New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy and Rob Morrison, the Chairman of Pure Advantage, says that although there is much that is positive in the strategy, strategically there is a clear lack of consistency in the overall approach.

“In a country that promotes and relies upon its clean and green image as much as New Zealand does, and arguably more than any other country, it simply isn’t logical to assume that we can invest heavily in fossil fuel extraction and not damage our brand and suffer the economic consequences of that damage.”

“The Government’s proposed energy policies are very much founded on the premise that we can have our cake and eat it too.

“Being clean and green means making some choices around what we value as the basis of our economy. Under an oil dependent economy New Zealand is unlikely to keep its clean and green status. Instead we should be adopting a far smarter and competitive approach and moving away from new fossil fuel energy production and generation to alternative clean and renewable energy solutions.”

Although the energy strategy has a target of achieving 90 per cent of our electricity generation from renewable energy by 2025 (in effect a return to New Zealand’s electricity generation mix of the 70s), New Zealand is still heavily dependent on fossils fuels for its total energy requirements, something that is totally inconsistent with New Zealand’s clean and green branding.

“Energy efficiency needs to play a larger role in New Zealand’s energy strategy. We import approximately NZ$6 billion of oil a year, exacerbated by the fact that we are inefficient energy consumers, so is the answer to invest in exploring for more oil, or to use less, so the dollars can be invested in more productive sectors?”

“Around 60 percent of New Zealand’s total energy mix comes from fossil fuels, and in our view this needs to be reduced by shifting to more profitable, longer-term sustainable alternatives.”

“New Zealand needs to improve the energy efficiency of its transport sector, and dramatically increase policy focus on energy efficient buildings, bio-mass supported co-energy plants, and sustainable primary production. By doing so we not only reduce emissions, we also substitute imported liquid fuels as part of creating a low-carbon future and a self-sustaining domestic market, at the same time as building skills and technologies that are in huge demand in a resource constrained world.”

“Instead of looking for short term, commoditised fixes to our issues, why don’t we aim instead for a share of the global green industry which is potentially worth over $6 trillion dollars? The clean energy sector of this industry amounts to around 35 per cent. This dwarfs any short-term fossil fuel revenues New Zealand might generate and will also allow New Zealand to really distribute on-going wealth created from sustainable sources.”

Rather than contributing to other countries’ problems by being a follower and exporting fossil fuels, New Zealand needs to be a leader and export clean and green solutions.

Morrison echoes the thoughts of fellow Trustee Sir Paul Callaghan that New Zealand must strive to raise the importance of its pristine environment.

“Only then can we ensure that New Zealand maintains its competitive advantage. If our focus is to make New Zealand a leading green economy using science and technology then this will be ‘a country where talent wants to live’ and by default we’ll maintain our leadership as the world’s best clean and green brand.”