I attended this conference last week, on behalf of CANA.
The speakers’ presentations are now up on the EDS site:
The following are my notes on what was most significant in the sessions I attended (there were parallel sessions).
Overall, there was an air of excitement this year, compared to last year, when the general feeling was one of frustration at the inaction of the National government over two terms of in power.
Judging by the standard of dress compared to previous years, the audience skewed corporate / government.
The release of the IPCC 1.5 report (SR15) the day before added a sense of urgency to the proceedings, which was particularly evident in the presentations by the insurance industry and local government.
it was, however, a scientist, Grant Guilford, the Vice Chancellor of Victoria University who was the most forthright : “We are in a grave situation, bought about by an abject failure of leadership over many years”.
SESSION 1 – NEW APPROACH
James Shaw, Minister for Climate Change: There is hope; at first glance the Zero Carbon Bill due early 2019, is compatible with SR15; kudos to National Party for engaging seriously with the issues.
Scott Simpson, National Party: We have changed our approach to climate change issues; NZ must lead the world in dealing with agricultural emissions.
SESSION 2 – NEW BUSINESS
Simon Watt, Bell Gully: IPCC SR15 report is stark and confronting; NZ needs a carbon price and will face adaptation costs as well; UK scheme has not impacted businesses there, e.g. little “carbon leakage”.
Abbie Reynolds, Sustainable Business Council: Climate Leaders Coalition now has 70 members and covers 50% of NZ’s emissions; no more business as usual;, e.g. Z Energy buying Flick Electric.
James Kilty, Contact Energy: Contact will close Straford gas peaking plant within a decade; 95% renewable energy is achievable, but the last 5% will be hard and require new tech.
Rachel Mackintosh, CTU: Need to normalise discussion of climate change in business, then move to downstream issues, such as climate justice; CEOs and boards should be legally liable for climate change issues in their business – as they now are for Health & Safety.
Rob Spurway, Fonterra: 30% emission reduction by 2030, net zero by 2050; Stirling plant going electric, Brightwater to biomass (NB: these are small factories).
SESSION 3 – INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE
Chris Stark, UK Climate Change Commission: There is a new acronym, NIMTOO = “not in my term of office”; UK GDP increasing as GHG emission decrease; easy to close coal plants, but the next targets will be harder – transport and land use; fresh approach essential, to “move new bits of government tinto doing new things”.
David Riley, Anglian Water: Set 5-year goals based on “belief plus belligerence”; inspire creativity, e.g. “No Dig” policy led to above-ground plants and reversing the flow of one-way pipes (NB: this was an inspiring presentation of a determined approach to reducing emissions).
Quiale Wong, Common Objective: Globally, the fashion industry is hugely wasteful and the fourth largest emitter; aim to move from regulation to aspiration via collaboration and communication.
SESSION 4 – BOARD ROOM
Davos World Economic Forum puts Extreme Weather and Failure to address Climate Change at the top of their Global Risks report. and
Blackrock (US $6T invested) expects companies to disclose climate change issues as a material financial risk.
Companies have already been sued for lack of disclosure (e.g. CBA).
There are both economic transition risks and liability risks.
Drivers for change: Future regulation / liability; Investor pressure (e.g. Blackrock, NZ Super fund); Competitive advantage
TCFD – Task Force on Financial Disclosures – from speech by Mark Carney, Bank of England https://www.fsb-tcfd.org/about/
Rob Campbell: Only action counts; listen to and enable the young
SESSION 5 – SOLUTIONS – TRANSITION PLANNING
Judy Lawrence, NZ Climate Change Research Institute: Adaptation & transition costs will be higher than what it would cost to mitigate climate change
John Mauro, Auckland Council: must build resilience for an uncertain future; “aspirational ad-hocism”; > 20 countries have increased GDP whilst decreasing emissions; Auckland lags behind other cities (see presentation for examples).
Dave Cull, Local Government NZ: Adaptation is simply unaffordable – at some stage, ever-increasing costs will cause businesses and cities to fail; for example, too much infrastructure is exposed to sea level rise; Governent impedes proactive policies, even discussion of same; ratepayers unwilling to pay for infrastructure they won’t benefit from for decades; need a Local Government Risk Agency to complement the Climate Commission and educate local bodies.
Martin Hunter, IAG: Businesses need to assess and manage their climate risks, or lose ESG-conscious investors (Environmental, Social, Governance).
SESSION 6 – SOLUTIONS – TRANSITION FINANCE
Stream 6.1.1 Q&A: Julian McRee, Genesis: NZ’s largest emitter, 2 Mt/yr; ETS should be part of our financial markets; Genesis will quite coal by 2030, starting in 2025, given “normal hydrological conditions”; a cautious transition, as tech. changes rapidly; gave an evasive answer to my question “Why did you burn more coal in a wet year?”
Grant Guilford, VUW: “We are in a grave situation, bought about by an abject failure of leadership over many years”; Global divestment from fossil fuels = $6 trillion to date
Tim Grafton, Insurance Council: “A 2-degree world might be uninsurable – a 4-degree world would be uninsurable”; claims from geophysical events (e.g. earthquakes) have remained constant, whilst climate claims have increased 500% over the same period.
Karen Silk, Westpac: reducing their exposure to carbon power generation.
SESSION 7 – SOLUTIONS – TRANSFORMATION
A new denialist creed: Sure, man-made climate change is real, but it’s too late to do anything about it!
Thing1: Real-time impacts of warmer & wetter atmosphere
Thing2: Ocean warming and acidification
We have to bend the emissions curve by 2030, with actual, verifiable reductions in absolute GHG emissions.
Kapua Smith, Contact Energy: we will close our thermal plants within a decade.
Alison Howard, Meridian Energy: To my question “Why not pull the plug on the Tiwai smelter?”, she responded “Tiwai make high-quality aluminium with green energy, so we should have more smelters like them”; she then refused to answer the follow-up question “In that case, why don’t they pay the market price for power?”.
Ralph Sims, Massey University: Bioenergy is the way to go, and there’s plenty of forestry slash; for example, Huntly could get off coal quite easily; slide of Chinese electric trackless tram – has rubber wheels and runs on roads)
James Young-Drew, Gen Zero: Gen0 supports a two-basket approach for short- and long-lived gases, but wants to reduce the short-lived significantly below current levels, as fast as possible, as well as reach net zero for all gases by 2050.
SESSION 8 – CHALLENGE & OPPORTUNITY
Hon. David Parker, Minister for the Environment: He’s feeling optimistic re agriculture tech. and practices; phasing out coal boilers in schools just requires better funding for the educational sector; Hydrogen fuel on the horizon.
Rt. Hon. Jacinda Adern, Prime Minister: The climate change transition will coincide with an economic transformation.
Other links of interest:
PAMU CEO says NZ farming has reached it’s social and environmental limits; we can expect to see fewer animals and more plants on our land in future.
Cleaning up climate change is good for business.