Climate change is a big deal. It will impact upon each and every one of us. It always has and it always will.
Climate change, climate emergency – I really don’t care what it is called. I care about what we are actually doing to measure, manage, mitigate, reverse and soften our negative impact on our environment.
I stood for election to promote balance between the council’s environmental and economic ambitions. Or to put it another way, to strive for clean, accessible fresh streams and water security, balanced with constant discipline on rates and spending. It is a healthy reminder that every dollar the council spends is your dollar, raised from your rates, fees and contributions from your council investment returns.
At the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, environmental considerations and therefore climate change are at the heart of all we do.
You may not agree with the council’s climate crisis narrative, the worst-case predictions and the finger wagging from people flying private jets to climate change conferences, but I am sure you see that we need to treasure our water, land, oceans and air.
So, actually, we are on the same page. Let’s not get stuck on labels, let just get on with the job.
Hawke’s Bay is an exporting region. Your job depends on the environment, from what we grow and produce from the land. Most of our families’ jobs and incomes rely, at least indirectly, on growing, processing, managing, transporting or accounting for export products.
Discerning local and international consumers – who we need to buy our exports – value environmental sustainability very highly as part of their purchasing decisions.
From an economic perspective, it is imperative that our businesses respond to consumers’ desires, that we have environmental integrity, and an understanding of the impact that our products have on the environment and therefore the climate.
Businesses constantly adjust their products and services to respond to consumers’ purchasing habits.
I think if our local businesses are going to continue to thrive and develop, then they need to understand the environmental sustainability of their operations, and products.
Therefore, climate change concerns should just be business as usual. It does not mean that owners and employees have to wear socks and roman sandals; it means they are evaluating market risks and taking action on behalf of shareholders.
Did you know that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Financial Markets Authority are asking and will probably soon require that climate change risks to a company, and measures taken to manage these risks, be reported in company annual reports?
Company directors, you may want to ask a few environmental questions and record the answers at your next meeting!
The Regional Council is beginning to walk the talk. It is measuring the carbon impact of its own operations.
It is gaining a far greater understanding of the opportunity of carbon locked up in its $11 million of forestry assets, through revaluing of the forest’s carbon credits and exploring how to measure and understand its own environmental footprint.
We must treasure and protect our environment. It can’t get lost in the endless rhetoric and contradictions of large greenhouse emitters who aren’t part of global environmental agreements.
Our livelihoods and jobs depend on individuals doing what is environmentally right, and councils and companies responding to the desires of ratepayers and consumers and taking real action.
If we do this, then our environment and therefore our climate will be so much healthier and hopefully our jobs more secure. Who would argue with that?
For the record, I am part of a Kiwi enviro-tech start-up that enables offsetting of carbon footprints via certified environmental projects.