12 May 2012

Volunteer for change

Wairau River winery,
in Marlborough region.
   "- They say that in some decades the climate in Finland will be suitable for producing wine!
    - Well, we will see. On the other side, I really hope the weather in France will still be suitable for cultivating grapes!"

France sees its wine production changing slowly. Today the grape-picking is performed three weeks earlier compared to 1945. Climate change definitely has something to do with it. New Zealand is also one of these places where excellent wines are produced…

The carbon footprint of the industry

The winery Wairau River, in New Zealand South Island, is a family run business. Since 2007 the winery has been carbon neutral. What does this mean? The activity of any company generates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which contribute to climate change. To be carbon neutral means to cancel (or offset) these emissions, by avoiding other emissions somewhere else on the planet. For instance saving trees or using renewable energies avoiding GHG emissions.
Wairau River has implemented
several actions to reduce their
emissions: producing lighter
and smaller glass bottles
which use smaller cardboard
cartons, allowing the shipping of
more cases per container;
acquiring new fuel efficient
tractors; replacing helicopters,
used for frost prevention,
with wind machines.
On a voluntary basis, companies can decide to offset their emissions. Doing this, they can declare that they do not contribute to the on-going global warming.

In 2007 Wairau River winery decided to measure, reduce and offset its unavoidable emissions of greenhouse gases. This initiative allowed them to obtain the carboNZero certification. The offsetting is done through the investment in wind energy projects. Each ton of carbon costs around 25 US dollars.

Certified… concerned

In order to know about carboNZero certification we went to the office of the company. Ann Smith, General Manager, and Chris Thurston, Sales Executive, explained to us a bit more.

Ann has been working on the certification programme from its very beginning. She explains : “the carboNZero programme results from a research initiative by the New Zealand government, initiated in the early 2000’s. Initially the research programme was interested in restoring biodiversity in New Zealand. To achieve this goal they used unproductive land to regenerate forest. Later on it went further and the programme started to offer financial compensation to farmers so that they would stop using the land for cattle grazing, and continue to regenerate forest. This was the beginning of a carbon trade system in New Zealand.”

Together with Alan Carnaby, Marketing Advisor,
and Chris Thurston,
in the office of carboNZero, in Auckland.
Since then, and with the support of the private sector, it has evolved to become an internationally accredited greenhouse gas certification programme, offering two certification options for businesses.

“In 2009 the carboNZero certification was complemented with the CEMARS (Certified Emissions Measurement And Reduction Scheme) certification with the objective of covering larger companies”, says Chris. “CEMARS certification does not include the offset step of carboNZero certification, but still requires companies to measure and reduce their emissions the same as carboNZero certification. CEMARS certification is suited to larger organisations where offsetting is not really financially viable, but allows companies to understand their impact on the environment and help them work to reduce that impact.”

carboNZero certification:
Businesses must measure, manage and reduce,
and offset their greenhouse gas emissions.
CEMARS certification:
Businesses must measure, manage and
reduce their greenhouse gas emissions
The path to the low-carbon economy

Besides wineries, many other organisations are finding benefits from achieving certification. When we were at Christchurch airport, we could also see the carboNZero certified organisation logo : in January 2008, the airport became the first airport in the Southern Hemisphere to obtain certified carbon neutral status. To help decrease their GHG emissions, the airport implemented innovative paving techniques and used solar energy.

In Wellington, the carboNZero certified service logo can be found on the city’s taxis. The taxi company reduced their emissions by turning from petrol to more eco-friendly fuel options, by ensuring low emission vehicles to enter the fleet and by promoting fuel-efficient driving practices to the drivers.

Other companies that are carboNZero certified include Toyota New Zealand, Bridgestone NZ, Antipodes (a water company) and Ricoh NZ. Westpac NZ Bank, BMW NZ, New Zealand Rugby Union, Auckland Museum and the University of Canterbury are CEMARS certified.

Besides the potential economic benefits - for instance by being more energy efficient - these companies acquire a better image for consumers who demand eco-friendly products and services. 

New Zealand provides a good example of how the private sector can go faster than legislation. United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand have established themselves as leaders to promote carbon policies in private sector.

Nowadays more and more airlines, like Qantas, Air France or Easy Jet, offer their customers the opportunity to offset the GHG emissions from their flights at a reasonable cost. Another way to offset is by buying the service of a specialized company. One Climate One Challenge project has offset the emissions resulting from the flights with EMCO2 Solution.


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