Some of Hawke’s Bay’s leading companies are beginning to make substantial commitments to environmental sustainability and ‘decarbonisation’ in the face of climate change. 

This is exciting news. 

Not because we’re reducing emissions in Hawke’s Bay or NZ, however. The latest data from Stats NZ say Hawke’s Bay emissions rose 1.2%, driven by agricultural emissions. These were partially offset by a fall in household emissions – the majority of which are transport emissions. 

Instead, because major economic players in our region are stepping up to the challenge, and they are probably the tip of the iceberg. 

Driving this is not some green utopianism, although for sure these business decision-makers ‘care’ … and some with passion. Instead, rational assessment of future business prospects is the cause – demanding consumer expectations; matched by regulatory change; cost-reduction possibilities from less waste of all sorts of inputs, from fuel to water to materials throughout the product life-cycle; and in many cases, recognition that ‘less is more’ means higher profits. 

Reading the winds, forward-looking business navigators are making economically driven practice changes while happily flying under the flag of ‘we’re doing our bit to save the planet’. Whatever the motivational mix, we’ll take it. 

Here’s just a first glimpse of what’s happening in Hawke’s Bay. 

Napier Port – aiming for net zero emissions by 2050. 

At Napier Port, carbon emissions in 2020 (to September) were 8,341 tonnes, down from 8,428 tonnes in the same 2019 window. The Port says: “In order to be sustainable, it’s important 

for Napier Port to proactively manage our carbon footprint.” 

Gains come from operational efficiencies like more fuel efficient forklifts, storing containers differently, transitioning to EVs, converting to LED lighting, repurposing waste bark from logs to mulch (in partnership with local firm BioRich). 

These climate-focused changes fall within a broader Sustainability Strategy the Port adopted this past August, with these elements: 

• aiming for zero net emissions by 2050 

• promoting healthy reefs and clean oceans locally 

• running community projects and good neighbour programmes 

• protecting marine and bird life 

• continuing to build a workplace that embraces diversity and cultural values 

• adopting clean energy solutions 

• minimising waste or duplication of resources 

Says Port chairman Alasdair MacLeod: “As a company that plays an important part in regional growth and prosperity, Napier Port embraces the opportunity to take a leading role in achieving a better and more sustainable future for all.” 

Silver Fern Farms – zero carbon Angus beef 

SFF was the first red meat company in NZ to adopt a sustainability programme and to verify its carbon footprint and set an emission reduction target — total GHG emissions this year were 13% lower than last year and 20% lower than three years ago. 

Their target set in 2020: 30% reduction on 2005 levels of the GHG emissions intensity of operations per tonne of product before 2030; and 10% reduction of energy use per kg of product produced. So far energy use is down 7.7%. And since 2017, 6% less fossil fuel used per kilogram of product. 

Its efforts include substantially cutting its coal use in processing – one-half by 2023, by two-thirds by 2025, and ending it entirely by 2030. Coal will be replaced by electricity and biomass. Other measures include smart lighting, hot water system management and overall water use reduction. 

Chief executive Simon Limmer exhorted SFF’s shareholder/supplier conference recently: “Consumer concerns are increasing with respect to soil health, emissions, biodiversity, agricultural intensity, water quality, and the resilience and sustainability of the current food system. There is only one direction of travel for our industry and SFF wants to be out the front leading.” 

What about that zero carbon Angus beef? 

SFF will launch Toitū Net Carbon Zero Certified Beef into the US market later this year. 

Working with AgResearch and Toitū Envirocare, SFF is completing a lifecycle assessment of its 100% Angus beef. That assessment involves measuring the greenhouse gas emissions from production, shipping and consuming a kilogram of 100% Angus beef in the US, then working with its Angus suppliers to measure, report and reduce emissions. Emissions (methane) from the cattle will be accounted for by carbon removals by vegetation on the supplier farms. 

Still a carbon offset arrangement, but coupled with the rest of SFF’s emissions and sustainability commitments, a comprehensive programme providing leadership for the sector. 

Hawke’s Bay Airport – carbon net zero by 2030 

Just like Napier Port, the airport’s commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of its operations involves a myriad of practice changes: 

• LED lighting 

• Choice of construction materials throughout refurbishment 

• High performance heat pump system 

• Reduced fuel use 

• Improved waste reduction and recycling 

Such changes – and rigorous measurement of them – have established HB Airport as the first regional airport in NZ to achieve an international standard – Airport Carbon Accreditation Level 2 – as the airport moves along an externally monitored pathway to carbon neutrality. 

Beyond the ‘day-to-day’ practice improvements, the airport can fairly lay claim to the region’s most ambitious footprint-reducing project. 

The airport recently completed a feasibility study and has decided to move forward to establish a 24.2 megawatt solar array. The project would be the first large-scale photovoltaic installation located on ‘airside’ land in New Zealand, enabling Hawke’s Bay Airport to be the first in NZ to be powered by solar energy. 

For scale, the solar farm could produce enough electricty to power 5,000- 6,000 households a year, meeting the electicity needs of the airport itself and returning surplus electricity to the grid for sale to other on-site businesses. The project even anticipates providing the capacity to ‘charge’ the regional electric planes – now on order by Sounds Air – that will fly into Hawke’s Bay before the decade is out … requiring a 1MW charger. 

HBAL chief executive, Stuart Ainslie says the solar farm is key to HBAL achieving its decarbonisation programme. 

“It’s vital that Hawke’s Bay Airport work towards carbon neutrality so it can do it’s part in New Zealand reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. With that in mind, the solar farm will help HBAL easily achieve its goal of reaching net zero by 2030.” 

[Sadly for our region, Ainslie, one of HB’s ablest CEOs, departs in December for an overseas step up.] 

Not just for the biggies 

These larger HB companies have the ‘luxury’ of resources to support cross-company work teams, specialist ‘sustainability’ staff and consultants. 

But you don’t need to be big to be climate benevolent. 

Stewart Financial Group is a good ‘small firm’ example. That investment advisory firm has installed solar panels to meet its electricity requirements, switched to EVs, added charging stations, and advises its clients on ethical investing … a key aspect of which is looking at climate change mitigation and sustainability commitments of prospect companies. 

We have no doubt many other HB companies are making sustainability changes that bear on our climate crisis. BayBuzz will be reporting steadily on these and we welcome hearing about your company’s plans. 

The commitment to change practices for the betterment of both the planet and the bottom-line extends to individual farmers and growers in Hawke’s Bay. Elsewhere in this magazine I report on the ambitions of local dairy farmers John and Donna Kamp to ‘grow’ soil carbon. 

Their most advanced farm (in terms of regenerative practices) holds 64 tonne/ha more soil carbon than their least advanced. That converts to 235 tonnes of CO2-e, or roughly the same as a pine forest would accumulate in 8 years. The HB Future Farming Trust will be monitoring their further progress and its huge implications for pastoral farmers country-wide. 

Greenwashing? 

Climate commitments are promises. And promises need to be articulated with precision, their implementation then independently monitored and verified. Otherwise ‘greenwashing’ can creep in. Nick Stewart discusses this in his article. 

In the examples given here, the companies involved have described the independent standards and measuring regimes they are working against and should be judged by. That provides reasonable assurance of credibility. 

But we have the added benefit of them being our neighbours, operating right here in our back yard where we can see first-hand what is really going on (or not), hold their feet to the fire, and applaud or raise alarms accordingly. 

And BayBuzz is committed to doing just that through our Project Net Zero. We will be seeking out examples of Hawke’s Bay companies making clear sustainability – and specifically, greenhouse gas reduction – claims. We will assess and report on those plans and then monitor progress. 

Stay tuned! 

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1 Comment

  1. We at WineWorks have also committed to Carbon Zero a year ago, and this is in response to the whole wine industry recognising that sustainability is seen as a very important plank in our export customers buying decisions.
    So not only does it help us sell our product, but from our teams perspective it is the right thing to do. We have started with a 30% net reduction per annum, which we are achieving, and a year ago we started investing in carbon credits here in NZ (native plantations) to offset to Carbon Zero.

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