New Zealand accounts for a fraction of the world's greenhouse gas emissions but, on a per capita basis, we have the sixth highest emissions per capita in the OECD.
EECA CEO Andrew Caseley said EECA is in its 14th year of measuring and reporting our emissions with Toitū Envirocare.
"It's important that we demonstrate our own progress in decarbonising because it's at the heart of our purpose. It's also important to show other organisations we understand, through our own experience, what's possible and what the challenges are."
Although our carbon footprint is small, we know that every little bit counts and we're intent on reducing it. As a signatory of the Climate Leaders Coalition(external link), we're committed to measuring and publicly reporting on our emissions, setting a public emissions reduction target, and working with our suppliers to reduce their emissions.
What we've done
EECA's goal is to reduce our emissions by 55% by 2030 against a 2018/19 baseline (i.e from 247.1 tonnes of CO2e to 111.0 tonnes of CO2), consistent with keeping warming to within 1.5 degrees.
Our emissions for 2020/21 were 124.5 tonnes of CO2e, which is 30% less than 2019/20, and 50% less than 2018/19. This reduction has been possible even while our team has grown by 10%. Overall, we've managed to achieve a 68% reduction in emissions since we began measuring them in 2007, which puts us on track to reach the 2030 goal.
These are some of the initiatives we've put in place:
- We've reviewed our air travel policy and increasing air travel awareness across our team.
- We've implemented a work from home policy that has helped reduce our team's transport-related carbon footprint and sees all members of our team able to work from home one day per week.
- We've set up secure print and electronic signatures to reduce the amount of paper we print.
- We've implemented better teleconferencing and video call technology to cope with virtual connectivity.
- We've continued efforts to choose and encourage uptake of low emissions vehicles for business travel, including ride-sharing agreements with low-carbon providers, encouraging public transport commuting, and using EVs for work trips. At EECA, we don't have carparks for staff.
- We've closed our small Christchurch office which has permanently cut the energy consumption and carbon emissions of operating an office and enabled a fulltime working-from-home policy.
- We have an internal sustainability "Kakariki" team dedicated to emissions reduction initiatives, sustainability, and monitoring our performance.
Last year, we reduced our flights by 34.8%, which was helped by lockdown restrictions, zero international travel and also by an increasingly specific set of requirements for business travel. As with a lot of businesses, air travel is the biggest contributor to our carbon footprint, particularly given our team is spread across Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. While it is a challenge to get that down, we're committed to continuing to reduce our emissions from flights — and leveraging technology to help with that.
Our offices in Auckland and Wellington are rated 4 and 5 stars through the NABERSNZ rating system which represents excellent energy performance.
While we're actively reducing our emissions, we offset the remaining emissions through the Spray Point Station, which is a native forest regeneration site located in Marlborough, New Zealand. The carbon forest area is under a QEII covenant, and is home to a diverse range of vegetation, including a threatened species of broom. The site also provides a breeding area for the New Zealand falcon.
Why going carbon-zero matters
More and more, people are asking for and supporting businesses that take climate-friendly action. The 2021 IAG Climate Change Poll(external link) released in June found that 79% of people agree that climate change is an important issue to them, and 86% of people want businesses to be transparent about the changes they’re making in response to climate change. It’s a big opportunity for businesses, and a commitment to reducing emissions is a good place to start.
Improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions often goes hand in hand with cost reduction too, from running more efficient vehicles, to switching to low-energy lightbulbs, or choosing better performing equipment. Over time, it can add up to significant cost savings for a business.
For smaller businesses, there are guides, calculators and worksheets available to help measure and report on emissions. For larger businesses that might need more technical support, there are independent certification organisations like Toitū that can help provide expertise, guidance, and resource to help with emissions reduction and management.
How to get started
If you're looking to reduce your business emissions, these steps provide a great framework to get started.
- Measure your emissions — understanding what your emissions actually are is a critical first step in figuring out your current state, what needs to change, and what you can achieve.
- Set an emissions reduction plan — this can establish how you plan to reduce emissions within your business, and help you identify low-hanging fruit.
- Track how you're performing — monitor your emissions over time and track these against the targets you've set for your business.