Sixty major NZ companies make climate change pledge

Sixty major New Zealand businesses have pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and hold themselves publicly accountable by setting targets.

The companies produce almost half of New Zealand's total emissions when their suppliers are included.

But on Thursday, they made a historic commitment to publicly report their emissions the same way they report their finances.

"When you open yourself up to public scrutiny, let me tell you: it drives action," Westpac Acting chief executive Karen Silk says.

The Reserve Bank governor says it is about time

"Let's have our moment of glory, but we are lagging behing the world. And today we're leap-frogging at least back to the frontier on one part of it," Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr says.

The Climate Leaders Coalition has pledged to:

- Measure and publicly report on their greenhouse gas emissions

- Set a public emissions reduction target consistent with the Paris Agreement to keep global temperature rises below 2degC

- Work with suppliers to reduce their emissions

Z Energy chief executive Mike Bennetts says the move shows absolute transparency from the companies.

"People can have confidence in the reporting," he said.

Vector chief executive Simon MacKenzie says a 30-home development for Maori first home buyers with solar and battery storage is an example of his company's transition to lower emissions.

He describes it's as a no-brainer for businesses.

"The expectations from consumers and markets are such that you have to be part of this, because they'll look elsewhere for people who are providing carbon-certified products."

And for consumers for whom climate change isn't yet a priority, it's hoped that businesses taking a leadership position will drive a change in behaviour

World Wildlife Fund chief executive Livia Esterhazy says businesses have a lot of power to make change.

"They've got power to make change within their own organisations - up and down the supply chain - but also they connect with all New Zealanders."

The Government is currently taking public submissions on climate change legislation that will lock New Zealand into a long-term commitment to reduce emissions.

Business heavyweights hope their pledge will encourage other Kiwis to get on board.