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Let's just do it: take a clean fight to the world

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Cleantech

New Zealanders still want to take on the world. They want to be part of the solution.

On climate change, 65 percent already think its effects have started and 45 percent believe it will impact their households within their lifetime. More would like their country to lead rather than follow in helping control emissions and avoiding high-cost damage to people and the planet.

Kiwis get excited when they think they can help, and the government can help make a difference. This is why it’s encouraging to see multi-party agreement emerging on the need to identify our future opportunities—especially our major potential new cleantech industries— and ways to make sure we get them started faster, and enjoy the higher paid jobs and other riches that will flow from that.

We need to find ways of collaborating across government, research institutions and the private sector to deliver new sustainable businesses that firms and institutions, on their own, cannot.

We need to find ways of collaborating across government, research institutions and the private sector to deliver new sustainable businesses that firms and institutions, on their own, cannot

A recent example is Fisher & Paykel Appliance’s breakthrough refrigeration technology. It has new compression technology that could cut refrigerators’ energy use by 30 percent. The firm says it took 17 years of work and a lot of collaboration, and it could not have done it alone.

By collaborating on cleantech, other huge opportunities like this could develop and, again, New Zealanders want to get behind it—with their taxes.

A ShapeNZ survey of 2,851 New Zealanders last year, presented to MPs reviewing climate change policy, shows 74 of every 100 Kiwis want the government to provide new investment funds to quickly commercialise new lower-emission technology invented in New Zealand. These could include biofuels made from woody residues, industrial process emissions and algae.

Of course, other multibillion-dollar opportunities are likely to emerge from new ways to lower agricultural emissions worldwide, arising from New Zealand-led international research.

Some 66 percent then want the government to provide assistance to the cleantech companies to sell their new products and services overseas.

They want more incentives to make their homes and vehicles energy-efficient, as many other countries are doing. Some 67 percent are even prepared to subsidise farmers to use nitrogen-inhibiting fertilisers to cut emissions and improve water quality.

A raft of these policies—on the tail of a comprehensive report detailing New Zealand’s best opportunities— would provide a home-run in terms of boosting exports, providing new higher wage jobs for the long term, aligning with our 100% Pure image (now related to 80 percent of exports), improving the quality of life here, and doing the right thing for the plant and the world community we share.

For the full report, see celsias.co.nz/link/shapenzsurvey
Peter Neilson is chief executive of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development