2050 Carbon Goals are Unattainable for a Third of Kiwi Businesses

According to a new report, a third of New Zealand businesses are set to miss their 2050 net zero carbon targets, putting in doubt the Government’s ability to reach its own goal.

The Government passed the Zero Carbon Bill in 2019 which enshrined into law its target for zero net carbon emissions by 2050. The targets aim to keep global warming to within 1.5C by 2050.

But 32 percent of businesses with more than 20 employees were on track to miss the 2050 target, according to research led by Dr Chris Brauer, director of innovation at Goldsmiths, University of London, and commissioned by Microsoft.

Given 97 percent of New Zealand businesses are smaller than 20 employees and less well resourced, the numbers that would miss the target are likely to be much higher, it said.

“While New Zealand has embraced net zero emissions in theory, many organisations are struggling to make the low-carbon future a reality,” the report said.

“A significant number are also struggling to access the financial resources needed to transition to more sustainable business models.”

It noted that not having the technology to support the transition is another challenge, with 75 percent of business leaders saying technological innovation is key to reaching net zero, but just half of all organisations making the necessary investments.

Plus, the report added, just 38 percent of organisations had the in-house skills and expertise they need to put their sustainability strategies into practice.

The report said it was worrying that just 12 per cent of organisations were currently mapping their carbon emissions, although it noted 69 per cent plan to by 2050.

“Emissions mapping is an urgent problem to solve if organisations are to get the insights they need to effect real change in the near future,” the report said.

“No sector will be left unaffected, and ambitious action from all parts of the economy will be required to transition to a low-emissions New Zealand.”

The report found leading organisations had access to the funding they need to put their sustainability strategies into practice, which they directed to innovative technological solutions to measure and reduce their emissions. They also collaborated with others in their industries and beyond, pooling their resources to amplify their sustainability impact.

Microsoft NZ national technology officer Russell Craig said it is important to identify where the barriers between intention and implementation were to help more organisations reach their sustainability goals faster.