Our submission on the Zero Carbon Bill

03 July 2019

Here's our response to the Zero Carbon Bill, which is expected to become law later this year. If you'd like to make your own submission, as an individual, or on behalf of your organisation, you can do so right here, until 16 July.

Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill

Submission to the Environment Committee, from the New Zealand Green Building Council

The New Zealand Green Building Council is a not-for-profit group, campaigning for all New Zealanders to live in warm, healthy homes, and for the cleaning up and reduction of building and construction pollution, including climate change emissions associated with the construction and operation of all buildings and homes.

We’re a team of people who are passionate advocates for better buildings, because we know that better buildings mean healthier, happier Kiwis.

We believe that looking after what’s indoors, helps look after the great New Zealand outdoors, and provide a clean, healthy and happy legacy for our children, for our mokopuna, for generations to come.

We work to achieve healthy, sustainable buildings for all New Zealanders.

We are a membership organisation, and our membership is made up of around 500 companies and organisations in New Zealand, including councils, government departments, banks, energy companies, property and construction companies, architects, developers, designers, tertiary education institutions, and more.This includes much of the NZX50.

The New Zealand Green Building Council supports the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill.

In particular, we support the intent of the Bill to limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and we support the foundation of an independent Climate Change Commission.

Climate change is the most serious and pressing issue of our time, and the science is clear. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change advises that to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, emissions need to reduce by 50 percent by 2030.

We would therefore like the Bill to include a roadmap to a 2050 net zero target that limits New Zealand’s contribution to global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, including a halving of carbon emissions by 2030.

The emissions of buildings and homes in New Zealand are significant, and increasing. Emissions from the construction industry have increased by 66 percent in the decade from 2007 – 2017.

New Zealand’s built environment is responsible for 20 percent of the country’s carbon footprint.

We would therefore like to see the inclusion on the Climate Change Commission of a commissioner with specific expertise in and knowledge of the building, construction and property industry, the industry’s carbon emissions and the solutions which are available to reduce these emissions.

The property industry is the largest industry in Aotearoa with a direct contribution to the GDP of New Zealand of $29.8bn (13 percent of GDP) for the year to March 2016.The sector employs 160,800 people, 8 percent of the full employment of Aotearoa.

The significant contribution of the industry to the economy, plus the availability of existing solutions within the sector to reduce emissions, which so far remain under-deployed, strongly suggest to us that the omission of buildings and construction from the Climate Change Commission would be a missed opportunity.

Reducing the emissions associated with the building and construction sector would also have benefits throughout the economy, and for many New Zealanders. Warmer, healthier homes would save New Zealanders money in household bills, and have significant beneficial health impacts too. Our high rates of respiratory disease are estimated to cost the country $6bn per year.

Greener commercial buildings are more energy efficient – and there are great gains for New Zealand to make in energy efficiency, too. Government departments and businesses could be saving hundreds of millions of dollars in energy bills and productivity where energy efficient buildings are encouraged.There are opportunities also to reduce locked-in or embodied carbon in New Zealand buildings.

We would also like a strengthening of the Bill’s ability to be enforced, and to include tougher remedies than currently included if emission reduction targets are not met.

New Zealand is a wealthy country, with a relatively high level of per capita climate change emissions. As a responsible member of the international community, and as a close friend of our Pacific neighbours, who are already bearing the brunt of climate impacts, it is our responsibility to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, in line with a temperature rise of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.