Lowering NZ emissions SBC’s top priority

24 Aug 2017
SOURCE:
Kate Alcock, Manager Climate and Resources

SBC_BlueGreens 

Late last year, the Sustainable Business Council conducted a survey and held a series of dinners with some of its members, asking what issues they would most like to work with the incoming government on. They are:

1. Prioritise the transition to a low-emission economy: To meet our Paris Agreement commitment SBC members want to collaborate with government to develop along-term vision for the transition to a low emissions economy. They want a framework for the transition that will provide greater clarity and certainty on climate change policy so that decisions about investment, innovation and business growth are futureproof.

2. Leave no one behind: SBC members want government to welcome business as an important partner in improving social outcomes for all New Zealanders on the journey to a socially, environmentally and economically prosperous New Zealand.

3. Strengthen NZ Inc: SBC members know the NZ Inc brand is critical to business success. They want to see the public sector consistently evaluate all potential environmental and social outcomes when making decisions. They want to see SOEs and Crown Entities show more leadership with balanced and transparent integrated reporting.

4. Back business to be sustainable: Government has a role to help business bemore sustainable by removing barriers, incentivising innovations and technologies, and strengthening sustainable procurement practices.

 

To read the Election Manifesto, please click here.

 

 Since completing the research, we have written the Election Manifesto and offered to share it with a number of political parties in Parliament, in person or by post.

When we met with political parties, SBC Advisory Board members joined us to help us present our findings and discuss these themes.

Most recently we met with National Party MPs in the Bluegreen Caucus. The main points of discussion were the social role of business, and the opportunity for government to learn about best practise sustainable procurement by SBC members. Those in the room reported back the caucus' interest in the diverse approach of business that included social initiatives and outcomes.  We also discussed areas of policy alignment, including:

  • The Bluegreens' focus is environmental – with conservation, natural resources and climate change the key priorities. We discussed the importance of social sustainability, and SBC's work under Social Impact.
  • The Bluegreens' cite the Environmental Reporting Bill as their commitment to the way we monitor and report on the condition of our natural environment. They also list activity under 'freshwater' including LAWF and spending on water clean-ups.
  • Their focus on conservation acknowledges the role of the land to provide economic, environmental, and recreational opportunities, underpinning our way of life and sitting at the heart of the tourism industry value proposition.
  • OCS CEO, Gareth Marriott, was able to share first hand experiences of the important role of procurement as a driver to improve sustainable business practise.

We have also met with the Labour caucus, who welcomed the conversation on social impact and climate change very positively.  They were happy with the intent and the values shown by SBC members. At the time of the briefing, many of Labour's key policies had not been announced, but still there were areas of alignment:

 

  • Announced policies include Light Rail in Auckland and investing in public transport for Greater Christchurch. Previous announcements reference establishing a carbon budget, including Agriculture in the ETS and job creation in relation to climate change opportunities (technology and services).
  • Labour's main policy focus is affordable housing, with supporting policies including abolishing secondary tax that denies access to wages; and 'Ready for work' for unemployed young people to access a job for six months doing work of public value. Through 'transforming careers advice' they want to develop partnerships between schools, businesses and training providers to provide young people with hands on experience while still in school.
  • There has been a lot of profile on their Clean water policy to set strong nationwide freshwater quality standards; and placing a royalty on the commercial consumption of water, the price of which will reflect the scarcity in different regions, the quality, and its use. Labour will work with iwi to resolve Treaty water claims in a manner that respects iwi's mana, and restores the mauri of our rivers and lakes.
  • The 'Our Work Our Future' policy focusses on using Government procurement to prioritise contracts that would create jobs in New Zealand. We provided feedback that this could be strengthened by including sustainability requirements in all purchasing decisions and by taking a total lifetime cost approach.

When we met with the Green Party's caucus, MPs were really interested in how businesses can cost externalities into their operation and investment decisions. There are a number of policies that align with SBC work, including:  

  • Yes We Can: A Climate Commission that assesses the Government's progress on meeting targets; a Climate Impact Disclosure Statement so every new piece of legislation acknowledges the costs of climate change; a Green Investment Bank; and a revenue neutral 'Climate Tax Cut' that puts a price on greenhouse gas emissions, but recycles the revenue back to householders and business via tax credits. The Safer, cleaner freight policy will fund rail infrastructure from the land transport budget; electrify Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga; and set a target for 25% of freight to be moved by rail and 25% by coastal shipping within 10 years.
  • Homes not Cars: remove the requirement for Housing New Zealand to return a dividend and redirect those funds into urgently building state houses; and increase the number of Housing New Zealand rental homes for families.
  • Require environmental measures to be reported alongside GDP (Public Finance (Sustainable Development Indicators) Amendment Bill); a Clean Groundwater Bill to make aquifers a matter of national importance to protect springs, groundwater and underground water sources; and issue a Taonga Levy of $14 to $18 for international visitors.
  • Establish transparency on the cost of all party policies through an independent Policy Costings Unit; and provide Business Tax Breaks for Clean Transport Options by removing Fringe Benefit Tax from electric vehicles and public transport passes.

SBC has also shared its manifesto with the Maori Party and New Zealand First by post.

SBC writes an Election Manifesto ahead of every General Election because we think it is important to facilitate relationships between business, government and NGOs that allow for collaborative initiatives and solutions. We can increase our positive impact and reduce negative impacts at a much greater scale, if different sectors in society work together. When we work with government, it is to overcome barriers to sustainable business and increase our members' positive impact, in alignment with Sustainable Development Goal 17 – Partnerships for the goals.

In the coming weeks leading up to the election, SBC will further promote the Manifesto themes, using social media channels and approaching media.