Opposition backs Green Growth report, experts cautious
Thursday 15 Nov 2012 10:54 a.m.
The report includes recommendations for forestry, electricity, transport, agriculture, fisheries and tourism
By 3 News online staff and NZN
Opposition parties say the Government must not dismiss the latest investigation into "green growth", whilst scientists have given it a positive, yet cautious response.
Pure Advantage's Green Growth: Opportunities for New Zealand was released on Thursday, described as the "first robust analytical assessment of New Zealand's green growth economic opportunities".
It identifies 21 ways the country can capitalise on a global shift to greener growth, and includes specific recommendations for forestry, electricity, transport, agriculture, fisheries and tourism.
Pure Advantage trust chairman Rob Morrison says the organisation intends to use the macroeconomic report as a basis to establish, in consultation with industry, seven industry-specific green growth programmes.
"We firmly believe on the basis of this significant macroeconomic report that New Zealand has the potential to generate billions of dollars in new high-value economic growth, whilst at the same time improving New Zealand's environmental performance."
Pure Advantage will now seek senior corporate sponsors to build business cases for action, independent of government involvement, in the seven identified areas.
OPPOSITION: REPORT PROVIDES "WIN-WIN" PLAN
Labour said the government should heed the report. Economic development spokesman David Cunliffe said green growth must be an increasingly important part of New Zealand's economic development, despite Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce disparaging Pure Advantage's previous report.
"Low carbon power, transport and building technology could be worth $3 trillion by 2050. These are huge potential export opportunities for New Zealand companies.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman described it as a "smart, win-win economic plan" the Government should be supporting.
"Since taking office, the National government has unfortunately chosen to further exploit the environment for the sake of the economy, leaving both the poorer."
THE EXPERTS RESPOND
Prof Jacqueline Rowarth, professor of AgriBusiness at the University of Waikato, says it would be "economic treason" to ignore the report.
"The main recommendations in the Green Growth report are spot on," she says.
Shaun Hendy of Industrial Research Ltd said the report focused too much on "greening" primary industries like farming, and should have paid more attention to opportunities the technology sector provides.
"These companies measure the value of their products not by weight, but by the knowledge that goes into their manufacture. So while I applaud the maintenance of our clean green brand, as highlighted in this report, I do worry that this is often seen as our sole source of comparative advantage.
"There is clearly opportunity to improve the allocation of water to more valuable and efficient uses, while taking the needs of the environment into account," says Roger Young, freshwater ecologist at the Cawthron Institute.
"However, I am not convinced about the role of water pricing for improving efficiency of use, as suggested in the report."
Economics lecturer Eric Crampton of the University of Canterbury said the report contained "much to like", but was concerned some of the ideas would cost more than they would generate.
"While more energy-efficient buildings would be very nice to have, regulatory mandates in the area often have perverse effects," says Dr Crampton.
"For example, mandates that homes undergoing renovations also be brought up to higher energy efficiency standards can encourage people to avoid renovating their homes."
He also questioned the report's lack of recommendations around hydraulic fracturing.
"Wave and tidal power are worth investigating, but remain rather too uncertain to bank on. Greater use of natural gas powered thermal electricity generation is likely New Zealand's best bet for lower emissions intensity power generation in the absence of substantial breakthroughs in other energy sources."
PURE ADVANTAGE'S GREEN GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES:
- retrofitting homes for energy efficiency and warmth - under way with some 750,000 homes to go;
- turning geothermal expertise owned by MightyRiverPower and Contact Energy into a globally valuable resource;
- investing in sustainable agriculture and efficient agricultural technologies, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making farming more profitable;
- using waste heat and burning waste products to produce low-carbon energy;
- installing a national "smart grid" allowing real-time energy pricing and digital technology;
- establishing a bio-fuels industry based on woody biomass;
- investing in New Zealand's ecological diversity to create high value eco-tourism and conservation education programmes.