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Opportunities and challenges as Aotearoa embraces climate-resilience

Christchurch – Aotearoa will create a number of opportunities and challenges across all sectors and communities, as it moves to a thriving, climate-resilient and low emissions society, He Pou a Rangi, the NZ Climate Change Commission says.

Their analysis of the transition has considered a wide range of factors, including existing technology and anticipated technological developments, the costs and benefits of adopting new technology and the impacts on households, employment and regions.

The switch to a thriving climate-resilient and low emissions Aotearoa would mean adopting new practices and technologies across the country: in transport and buildings, in industry and manufacturing, in the land sector and in the waste sector.

New behaviours and thinking are also required to speed up this change, commission chair Dr Rod Carr says.

“Globally, technologies and practices to reduce emissions exist for every sector – although these are in differing states of development and deployment. New technologies and opportunities to reduce emissions would also emerge in the coming years.

“Many of these current and emerging emission reduction opportunities offer multiple co-benefits such as improved health outcomes, new job opportunities and reduced local environmental impacts.

“However, these opportunities to reduce emissions also have the potential to have negative impacts, which must be considered. They may be too expensive for people to afford, or may consistently fall on some groups in society, including iwi/Māori and Pacific peoples, meaning the transition is not an equitable one.

“There are also uncertainties around the emissions reduction potential, reliability and costs of a number of emerging technologies, making it hard to determine which technologies present the greatest opportunities and the fewest challenges.

“This means any emissions reduction practice or technology needs to be carefully assessed before it is included in emissions reduction plans and budgets.”

For opportunities to be taken up, the commission says they need to be affordable both at time of purchase and over the life of the investment. Often the cost of an opportunity will decrease over time, as economies of scale kick in and improvements are made to design and manufacturing.

There are several examples of the costs of technologies decreasing and often faster than predicted – such as electric vehicle batteries, offshore wind and photovoltaic cells.

When considering costs, it is also important to recognise the upfront cost, rather than the lifetime cost of owning or using the asset. EVs (electric vehicles) are an example of this. This is where the up-front cost is higher than a comparable petrol or diesel car, but the lifetime running costs and total carbon dioxide emissions are lower.

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