Clean tech­nol­ogy

Element - - Contents - By Dun­can Ste­wart, direc­tor, New Zealand Clean­tech & En­vi­ron­ment Net­work (NZCEN)

2050 might sound like a long way off, but there is much work to be done if New Zealand com­pa­nies want to max­imise the huge com­mer­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties that clean­tech presents.

Clean tech­nolo­gies are a broad group of goods and ser­vices, which, through some form of in­no­va­tion, de­liver both com­mer­cial re­turns and mea­sur­able ben­e­fits to the en­vi­ron­ment. Ba­sic ex­am­ples in­clude so­lar power, elec­tric ve­hi­cles, bio­fuel and en­ergy ef­fi­cient light­ing.

Clean­tech mat­ters to New Zealand be­cause our econ­omy and na­tional brand is in­trin­si­cally con­nected to the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. Com­pared to most other na­tions, it is dis­pro­por­tion­ately im­por­tant for New Zealand to main­tain high stan­dards of en­vi­ron­men­tal per­for­mance, in order to safe­guard our long-term abil­ity to re­main pro­duc­tive. This is es­pe­cially true for the goods and ser­vices where we en­joy a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.

The per­va­sive ar­gu­ment that ‘en­vi­ron­ment costs busi­ness’ is no longer valid. A more holis­tic (and ac­cu­rate) per­spec­tive is that ‘en­vi­ron­ment en­ables busi­ness’.

Mar­ket anal­y­sis in 2013 by EY mea­sured pub­li­cally listed clean­tech com­pa­nies’ mar­ket cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion at US$170 bil­lion and grow­ing at 18% per an­num glob­ally. Most com­pa­nies are lo­cated in the Asia/Pa­cific re­gion.

So, by 2050, the merger of en­vi­ron­ment and busi­ness will be well pro­gressed; and not only will New Zealand be recog­nised as a leader in busi­ness-led en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment, this will be an un­der­pin­ning fea­ture of our econ­omy. Clean­tech in­no­va­tion will drive pro­duc­tive ef­fi­ciency, de­liver com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages and open up new global ex­port mar­kets.

Here’s what 2050 might look like for clean­tech in NZ: • NZX will have a thriv­ing clean­tech mar­ket cat­e­gory. All pub­licly listed busi­nesses will have sus­tain­abil­ity rat­ings, linked to trans­par­ent au­dited en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­counts. • Busi­ness will see en­vi­ron­men­tal in­no­va­tion as a source of com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage and mar­ket lead­ers will make ef­fec­tive use of bio mimicry and bio util­i­sa­tion as de­sign tem­plates to de­liver bet­ter prod­ucts and ser­vices. • A na­tional ‘green bank’ will have a port­fo­lio of large-scale in­vest­ments, sup­ported by mul­ti­ple pri­vate green in­vest­ment funds. Re­tail bank com­mer­cial lend­ing cri­te­ria will in­clude a ful­some re­view of en­vi­ron­men­tal per­for­mance. • Govern­ment will have ro­bust in­no­va­tion pol­icy in place to en­cour­age the com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of clean­tech R&D. Rather than sti­fling busi­ness, en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy will be recog­nised as a tool to stim­u­late sus­tain­able green growth. Mul­ti­ple mar­ket in­stru­ments pro­vide clear price sig­nals to busi­ness and con­sumers to en­cour­age the pro­duc­tion of sus­tain­able goods and ser­vices. • In­fras­truc­tural as­sets will be re­viewed against strict

green per­for­mance cri­te­ria be­fore be­ing rolled out. • Like hu­mane treat­ment of an­i­mals and eth­i­cal worker con­di­tions, en­vi­ron­men­tal per­for­mance will be highly trans­par­ent and sub­ject to in­tense con­sumer scru­tiny. • Af­ter stum­bling ini­tially, New Zealand will re-claim its place in the top three global en­vi­ron­men­tal per­form­ers, largely on the back of ad­vance­ments made in agri­cul­tural emis­sions re­duc­tions and a shift away from car­bon in­ten­sive trans­port fu­els. • NZ’s clean­tech ex­ports will be dom­i­nated by agri­cul­tural tech­nolo­gies, but there will be other strong clean­tech in­dus­try play­ers in nan­otech, wa­ter and waste man­age­ment, cli­mate change adap­tion and bioenergy. So what needs to be done now to en­sure we don’t miss the 2050 op­por­tu­nity? Some great work is al­ready un­der­way by busi­ness, for ex­am­ple: • The New Zealand Clean­tech & En­vi­ron­ment Net­work ( has been set up to ag­gre­gate New Zealand’s top clean­tech com­pa­nies and look at ways to forge cross-in­dus­try re­la­tion­ships, bet­ter or­gan­ise and fund the sec­tor. • West­pac re­cently an­nounced $150m com­mit­ment to the New Zealand clean­tech sec­tor and will soon be rolling out a suite of new fi­nan­cial prod­ucts de­signed to en­cour­age rev­enue growth in green com­pa­nies. • Pure Ad­van­tage con­tin­ues to sup­port the devel­op­ment of healthy high-per­for­mance homes with Ki­wibank. It also re­cently launched a new bio­di­ver­sity work­stream, and in­tends to roll out an in­vest­ment bank­ing part­ner­ship with a govern­ment re­search agency later this year. • The Sus­tain­able Busi­ness Coun­cil (SBC) has re­cently de­vel­oped a wide range of en­vi­ron­ment-re­lated pro­grammes to bet­ter equip busi­ness for the fu­ture. Govern­ment is also on the band­wagon. As re­cently as July 8, the New Zealand Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs was par­tic­i­pat­ing in dis­cus­sions with the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WTO) in Geneva to look at the re­moval of trade bar­ri­ers for En­vi­ron­men­tal Goods & Ser­vices (EGS), in con­junc­tion with free-trade ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Photo: Ross Set­ford

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