Businesses urged to take first step in creating climate action plan

  • 22/05/2023
  • Sponsored by - EECA
Juliette Hogan, Owner, Founder, Designer, Juliette Hogan.
Juliette Hogan, Owner, Founder, Designer, Juliette Hogan. Photo credit: Supplied

For many businesses wanting to become more climate-friendly, taking the first step towards cutting carbon emissions can seem daunting. But the reality is, embarking on a climate action journey doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, by beginning to both measure and reduce carbon emissions, businesses can strengthen their brand's reputation and cut costs.

With many companies already preoccupied with inflation and the threat of a looming recession, it's understandable that a climate action plan is not top priority for many Kiwi businesses. In fact, according to research by EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), many businesses are deprioritising climate action, given current concerns about the economy.

EECA's most recent Business Monitor survey, conducted in November 2022, surveyed 521 business decision-makers across the country. It showed that only 55 percent of businesses believe climate change is an 'important' or 'very important' issue – in contrast to research showing 71 percent of Kiwi rank climate change as a pressing issue.

Jo Bye, Group Manager of Marketing and Communications at EECA, says the figures highlight growing pressure for businesses to be more active when it comes to reducing emissions.

"Businesses are understandably distracted by economic concerns and other competing pressures right now," says Bye.

"Our research consistently shows that businesses put economic concerns ahead of environmental concerns, but that means they're missing the win-win to be had by addressing both simultaneously. It also means they are falling out of step with how Kiwis are feeling."

Through its Gen Less campaign, EECA is working to inspire more Kiwi businesses to take action and reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. The first step in this climate action journey is for companies to start measuring their carbon footprint.

Research by EECA shows that perceived roadblocks for businesses are cost, overall lack of knowledge and finding it too hard to take the first step.

The reality though, says Bye, is that getting started is easier than most businesses think. And the benefits of doing so can be substantial.

Paul Chambers, COO & CFO, Kiwibank.
Paul Chambers, COO & CFO, Kiwibank. Photo credit: Supplied

"Switching away from fossil fuels has a lot of benefits for business, beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions. You can save costs, through energy efficiencies and switching from fossil fuels to electricity or lower-emission fuels, you'll improve your reputation with an increasingly socially-responsible consumer base and investors, and you'll enhance your brand value, tap into new markets, and create business opportunities," says Bye.

Climate-friendly businesses also have an edge in attracting and retaining talent, and taking positive climate action also means businesses can stay ahead of future trading regulations that support climate change mitigation, says Bye.

"By not making it a priority, [businesses] are missing out on the benefits to be had, but they're also exposing themselves to risk; any part of your business that relies on emitting carbon is vulnerable to the price of carbon and any future regulations – in New Zealand and internationally – will only make it harder to operate. It's better to take action now, be ready and remain competitive."

As part of their Gen Less campaign, EECA has partnered with businesses already on their journey to lower emissions, such as Kiwibank, Juliette Hogan and Silver Fern Farms.

"The feedback from the businesses we've worked with for this campaign, and the many businesses that EECA works with every day to reduce their emissions, are consistent – it can feel daunting to start, but you just do it. You start small, you start purposefully and you keep putting one foot in front of the other until it becomes a routine part of your business."

Jo Bye, GM Marketing & Communications, EECA.
Jo Bye, GM Marketing & Communications, EECA. Photo credit: Supplied

Bye suggests businesses already considering reducing their carbon emissions or energy use should "start with purpose".

"The first step to becoming a climate-friendly business is to make a clear decision to start," she says.

Once businesses have committed to embarking on a climate journey it's crucial to begin measuring emissions to gain understanding of the company's carbon footprint. Greenhouse gases are created primarily through energy use and sending waste to landfill, so companies are encouraged to look at aspects of their business such as car use, air travel, shopping options and on-site energy-use to find where they can make the biggest impact.

Once businesses know where their emissions come from they can make a concrete plan to reduce them.

"The journey will be different for everyone, depending on the size and nature of your business, and whether you've already done any work in this space. But it’s so valuable, because it will really highlight the areas where you can have the most impact, and help you lay down a realistic path for making emissions reductions," says Bye.

"Any action you take is going to be valuable, but you want to be able to measure your success. That helps to show how you're working together to make a difference, and it also shows your customers you’re authentic in your commitment."

Four steps to get started with emissions reduction in your business:

  1. Start with purpose – the first step to becoming a climate-friendly business is to make a clear decision to start. 

  2. Measure your emissions – understand the footprint of your business to find out where to make the biggest impact. 

  3. Create a climate action plan – once you know where your emissions come from you can make a plan to reduce them. 

  4. Tap into co-funding and support

Visit to take your business's next step on your low emissions journey. 

Article created in partnership with EECA.