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Gisborne CEOs join climate change fight

Two of Gisborne’s biggest organisations have committed to tackling the “climate crisis” by reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the Climate Leaders Coalition.

Established in July 2018, the coalition (CLC) includes some of New Zealand’s largest businesses, which collectively account for 60 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

By signing up to the CLC, signatories commit to measuring their greenhouse gas emissions, publicly reporting on these and setting a public emissions reduction target.

To date, 108 chief executives have signed the CLC joint statement, which also includes a commitment to the Paris Agreement (see story above right).

ECT chief executive Gavin Murphy and his Eastland Group counterpart Matt Todd are the most recent to join the CLC roster.

In a joint statement, they agreed with coalition members to further reduce the original agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions — in line with what’s needed to limit warming — from 2 to 1.5 degrees.

Mr Murphy said ensuring a safe and prosperous future for the region went hand-in-hand with looking after the land, oceans and waterways.

“We are committed to creating a Tairawhiti where everyone thrives. To do this, ensuring we align with global directives to combat climate change is a must.”

ECT had already taken steps to align with the CLC joint statement, he said.

The majority of its vehicle fleet was electric and through the trust’s economic development arm — Activate Tairawhiti — it was exploring how to best support local businesses to transition to a circular economy model, by default, a low emissions economy.

Activate Tairawhiti economic development general manager Steve Breen said its Gisborne Circular Economy Conference in May was a great starting point.

“Alongside local leadership, the conference brought national and global sustainability leadership and thinking to the region.

“We have 12 years to turn greenhouse gas emissions around to limit global warming to the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees.

“In in our view, the conference has helped kick-start regional efforts to assist local businesses in reducing their carbon emissions.”

It also showed businesses the value in doing so “not just for the planet, but for employees, the community and for their bottom line”.

Mr Murphy said ECT’s continued support of Tairawhiti Environment Centre umbrella projects, as well as a $231,363 distribution this month to Gizzy Kai Rescue, represented a conscious effort to make distribution decisions for the benefit of community and environmental wellbeing, said Mr Murphy.

Locally, green waste made up 26 percent of the material entering landfills, he said.

Since October, Gizzy Kai Rescue rescued and redistributed 26 tonnes of surplus food and non-food items to community groups — a notable contribution to the region’s 2024 long-term plan to reduce green waste by 40 percent.

Mr Murphy urged the community to look out for the trust’s upcoming Have Your Say campaign.

Have Your Say comes on the back of the trust’s Tu Ora Ai Tatou — Living Well Together report, which is aimed at developing a regional wellbeing framework and distribution measurement tool.

“If you want to see the environment as a focal point for distributions funding, then make sure you take part in Have Your Say in the coming months.”

As part of joining the Climate Leaders Coalition, ECT and Eastland Group have partnered to employ a specialist in measuring and reducing emissions.

“Together with our shareholder Eastland Community Trust, we champion a variety of environmentally-focused projects that support sustainability within the Tairawhiti Gisborne region,” Mr Todd said.

As part of the focus on sustainable and renewable energy, 90 percent of Eastland Group’s non-commercial fleet was electric, he said.

Funding from the Energy Efficiency and Conversion Authority’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund and ECT also allowed Eastland Group to install six EV fast chargers throughout the region and to set up the Electric Village energy hub.

Mr Todd said each sector — Eastland Port, Gisborne Airport and Eastland Generation — were looking at innovative ways to reduce the group’s overall carbon footprint.

“We believe we can be a leader in steering Tairawhiti towards zero carbon through renewable energy and facilitating the transition to electric vehicles.”

Mr Todd said the CLC provided a unique opportunity for businesses to work together and learn from each other to reduce emissions.

The coalition celebrated its one-year anniversary this week with the EMBARK Achieving Low Emissions Together event in Auckland. Jarred Moroney attended on behalf of Eastland Group and ECT.

CLIMATE CONSCIOUS: Eastland Community Trust chief executive Gavin Murphy in an electric car. Most of the trust’s cars are electric as the organisation recognises the need to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emssions. Mr Murphy and Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd are among the latest New Zealand CEOs to join the Climate Leaders Coalition. File picture