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Innovation and tech underpins need for emissions reduction

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Aotearoa’s new emissions reduction plan doesn’t explicitly call out the importance of innovation and technology, but it is there throughout the plan, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

Tech is ever present in today’s digital world, he says.

"Be it the digital technology needed to support emissions pricing and trading, green financing or more efficient on farm practices, the biotechnology that will be needed to develop bioenergy or a more circular economy, or the high tech manufacturing needed for bioremediation plants or the development of new construction materials, tech is always there.

"Government is investing $800 million in climate related research, science and innovation and plans to develop climate tech platforms to bring domestic and international innovators and entrepreneurs together to discover and embrace new clean technologies.

"New Zealand has been strong in digital research and development, investing a lot into the science system, but now is the time to also drive the development and make sure New Zealand speeds up the push to produce commercial products.

"The adoption of digital technologies across the primary sector will be fundamental to better farm management, improved productivity and accelerated climate response.

"The proposed Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions aims to accelerate getting emissions reduction tools and technologies on farm. However while this is being set up, let’s also look to encourage more development and uptake of digital tech already available.

"There are opportunities to increase innovation investment in bio-remediation of waste into new products or energy, for example taking forestry waste and creating bio-plastics.

"Shifting the country’s transport fleet to EV will take time but meanwhile faster roll out of digital solutions for traffic management, trip planning and logistics management can have a more immediate effect.

"Aotearoa must not lose sight of the tech opportunities waiting to be taken up, as the nation focuses on the larger more complex changes required. Government should develop a simple technology roadmap for the emissions reduction plan, clearly signalling the short, medium and long term innovations and technologies that will be needed to underpin the ERP.

"This will help signal to innovators and entrepreneurs where their skills are most needed."

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres wants more global focus on renewables technology, such as battery storage and removing obstacles to tech transfer, including intellectual property constraints. Guterres has appointed New Zealand’s Dr Rod Carr to join an elite world group to look into climate change issues.

Dr Carr is chair of He Pou a Rangi New Zealand Climate Change Commission, former Chair of the board and once acting governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, and former vice-chancellor of the University of Canterbury. He says not taking action now will cost New Zealand 2.3 percent of GDP by 2050, almost double the cost to the economy of acting now.

Guterres says technology can help reduce global emissions by 15 percent. Connectivity is a key enabler for many, if not most, exponential climate solutions.

The digital technology sector is probably the world’s most powerful influencer to accelerate action to stabilise global temperatures well below 2Cdeg.

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