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Shaping Our Low Emissions Future

Back in May, three of us from Energy TS made it down to the 2019 EMANZ Conference.

The event was held at the Harbourside Function Centre in Wellington and in association with the Sustainability Society.

Over the course of the two day event (29-30th of May) we listened in on many interesting talks and presentations all centred around this year's theme which was 'Shaping Our Low Emissions Future'.

At the previous year's conference 'Energising A Low Emissions Economy', most of the discussions were around how New Zealand could transition to a low emissions economy.

However, a lot has happened since 2018, including: rising public awareness of climate change and its effects, local governments across the country declaring climate emergencies and the introduction of the long awaited Zero Carbon Bill.

So this years event focused more on the practicalities to a low emissions economy, how businesses engage with their staff, suppliers and customers to change behaviors, how organisations can develop strategies and plans to reduce emissions and the role EMANZ members will play in making the shift.

EMANZ organised some very relevant speakers for the 2019 conference, including: internationally renowned sustainability expert, Bob Willard, Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, Environmental Risk Assessment expert from Schneider Electric, James Hunt, and many more.

It was also MC'd by comedian and long-standing sustainability advocate Te Radar which made for entertaining intermissions between speakers.

James Shaw Jacinda Aldern Zero Carbon Bill


The event kicked off with a Ministerial Address from Climate Change Minister, James Shaw where he gave us all an update on the progress the government had made on the last 12 months.

He also discussed some reasoning behind the decisions that were made for the Zero Carbon Bill legislation. Including explaining that the 1.5 C target was chosen so we have some flexibility around the actions required and forces us to act on the science as it evolves.

He also gave an update on the ETS reform, told us about how transport emissions are currently getting worse not better (64 Utes are imported to every 1 EV!) and how we will need to double our electricity generation over the next 30 years as we electrify our economy. We will need to increase our electricity production while not introducing more thermal (emits GHGs) and hydro dams (causes other environmental issues). He also talked about Hydrogen fuel and its role and about the Just Transition Unit.

James Hunt Schneider Electric Micro grids

Next up we had James Hunt from Schneider Electric who discussed the potential for microgrids in New Zealand. He discussed some of the key drivers for microgrids as well as trends and applications using both global and local case studies. He also dived into some of the technical and economic challenges in developing microgrid projects and the bigger questions that we still need to answer.

After that we had Simon Upton who gave a very interesting presentation named 'Some reflections on Farms, forests and fossil fuels:The next great landscape transformation?'.

In this presentation he pointed out that for NZ to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement the price of emission credits would likely need to be $60-$120 more expensive than they currently are. This was a mind boggling number compared to the current $25 limit.

He also discussed the many issues that we face when using trees as our primary tool to meet our targets. This is because the timeline for carbon sequestration from trees does not match up well with the GHG release from burning fossil fuels. He points out that the 'net' carbon zero goal by using trees may distract from the goal of reducing CO2 produced from fossil fuel emissions. He'd rather us focus on what he sees as the core problem, the release of pre-historic CO2 from the use of fossil fuels.

For the rest of day 1, we were spoiled with great presentations and talks from artificial intelligence led microgrids to low emission homes, transport options and electricity generation.

On day 2 we had the Canadian Bob Willard, founder and CEO of Sustainability Advantage, a widely published author with particular expertise in demonstrating the value of sustainability in preparing business cases and how to lead the change to a culture of sustainability. He is also an expert in integrated reporting.

Dr Willard has a PhD in Sustainability from Toronto University and is a multi award winner for his work in bringing sustainability to life in the corporate world through change, integrated reporting and quantifying sustainability benefits.

He started off by discussing the 2019 Global Risks Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) which placed extreme weather events and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation as the top two global risks. However he contrasted this seemingly pessimistic news with discussion around the Better Business, Better World Report which looked at the world economic outlook if we achieve the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) put forward by the United Nations.

He then put forward his ideas about creating business cases around sustainability initiatives and how to get buy in from senior management.

We definitely learnt a lot of his presentation and look forward to reading his book 'The New Sustainability Advantage'.

The rest of the day had sessions split between the main conference room and another room just behind. There were 11 sessions in total for the rest of the day so we split up to try and gain as many insights as possible. The topics were around circular economy, industrial emissions, continuous commissioning, behavior change and process heat.

The content of the event was the main draw for us being a carbon management company but we were very happy with the food, overall structure and venue of the event too.

Here is what Robb Morison had to say about the event...

"There is hope, unfortunately NZers are great talkers but not good action takers. My feeling though is that seems to be changing. Pretty clear that 99% of people there support the direction EMANZ is heading (Carbon)

I was impressed with James Shaw, thought he got his points across well. Simon Upton had a big impact, I like the fact that he didn’t pull any punches.

Te Radar was actually really good, liked the before & after photos at the joining of the tunnel.

Bob Willard was a standout, walking the talk had made a big impact on his carbon footprint, I also thought what he said about presenting costings in a way a (CFO) can understand is essential to getting projects across the line.

Also thought Jim Hinkley’s presentation on Hydrogen was good.

A lot to take in, worth it, good to catch up with clients, met people only communicated via email & calls. Always useful and learn new stuff."

Here is what Pat Wall had to say about the event...

"I felt very excited to see the new direction that EMANZ has taken, and the fact that we have combined with the sustainability sector. I felt that this was a perfect combination, and has brought topics of discussion into our circle that are of great value.

The talks that most interested me were...

  • Simon Upton- because he laid out the issues and actions very well and I feel pretty confident that he is trying to do justice to the challenges we face.

  • The discussions around micro-grids, because I think this is a good way to provide energy security at a reasonable cost and to use more renewable energy in the process.

  • The accounting for climate change risk talk, because finance and accounting are things that big business interests must pay attention to and is one way that the wider economy will come to see climate change as a very real and important issue.

  • The same goes for the Bob Willard talk.

I thought that this EMANZ conference was the launch of some very positive initiatives and helped to point the way forward, with some very positive takeaways for those of us in the industry."

Here is what George Gray had to say about the event...

"Finally, an industry around reducing emissions! My big takeaway was that there is a lot happening in this space and the activity is only going to increase.

I was very excited by hearing about NZ climate policy updates from James Shaw and Simon Upton raised some very valid points about relying too heavily on trees. At least now we as a country have some legislation to get the ball rolling on GHG emission reductions.

Very interesting to hear how the NZGBC is looking to start tackling emissions from buildings and I learnt a lot about waste management and the circular economy.

I would rate the experience highly because EMANZ put things together so seamlessly and having a comedian on the mic helped us all stay engaged as the days went on."

Would we do it again?

You bet ya!

We all got a good amount of value from the event and would recommend attending next year's event to anyone working or interested in energy management, sustainability and reducing emissions.

It's worth mentioning at this point too that EMANZ (now Carbon and Energy Professionals New Zealand, CEPNZ) as an organisation measures and reports on their own GHG emissions by using our software e-Bench®.

That includes the emissions generated by putting on this very conference.

Is your organisation reporting on their GHG emissions?

If your organisation‌ isn’t already voluntarily reporting on your GHG emissions, now would be a very good time to start thinking about it. It would make sense to try and get a handle on what your emissions footprint is and what your future financial obligations could be.

There’s no doubt that voluntarily reporting on your GHG emissions now will help you be compliant when the Zero Carbon Bill comes into full force, but additionally being able to accurately show reductions in GHG emissions will help differentiate your organisation as sustainable and environmentally conscious.

As an e-Bench® subscriber you would receive monthly energy usage reports like this sample report.

These reports show you the overall energy consumption, cost and carbon emissions for the month.

This allows you to track energy or carbon management initiatives as they are implemented so you can see the savings and know the payback of a project.

To learn how e-Bench® could help you report your GHG emissions, you can book a time to chat with us that suits you schedule:


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