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Embark 2019

Written By: - Date published: 8:05 am, July 29th, 2019 - 99 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, ETS, sustainability - Tags:

Largely unremarked last week was a conference in Auckland called Embark 2019.

It was led by the Climate Leaders Coalition signatories, and aims to boost the government’s own carbon neutralizing programme.

You can see a lot more of the membership and the aims of this network at the Sustainable Business Council of New Zealand.

It’s pretty easy to presume that corporates have blown up the planet and that capitalism is generally unredeemable.

But here are some of our major employers working very hard to make a difference, in New Zealand. Who knows, you may even work for them yourselves.

Mike Bennetts the CEO of Z Energy and Convenor of the Climate Leaders Coalition led the challenge. This 2019 conference was the first anniversary of this set of leaders.

Other leaders joined in, including Tom Kelly from The Warehouse Group, and Rosie Mercer from Ports of Auckland, who concentrated on measuring and reporting emissions.

Then there was Ian Goldschmidt from Fonterra, talking about what a sustainable Fonterra would look like and how to get there. They really do have a roadmap for this.

Of real interest to me was how Sky City formed an internal carbon price and how that is integrated into funding decisions and models within Sky City. (I marvelled at how awesome it would be if the tens of billions worth of annual government infrastructure contracts were driven by sustainability goals rather than driving down to the cheapest possible price, using the cheapest possible subcontractors, and offloading all blame for not achieving inchoate goals to those doing the job rather than holding a common accountability framework at which sustainability was at its core. Sigh).

Meridian’s Nick Robilliard walked them through how they will convert their entire fleet to electric, and the steps within the company to get there.

And of course James Shaw led a panel on some of the highlights of the year in sustainability and decreasing our carbon footprint on New Zealand and on the world.

Workshops with actual plans attached from major business. That’s not common.

One of the reasons I need to post on this is the chronic lack of publicity about good people doing good things from this conference. Minister Shaw is just too, too quiet on such concrete plans. Maybe he’s just content to work within a specific corporate circle. Great for getting a job after politics, just terrible politics, and the lack of information to the public is steadily corrosive for our democracy.

Corporates are justly proud of turning such massive ships around when they are thorough enough to put their name to an public accountability framework and go on the record showing how they will do what they say. Because then then their shareholders (and the public if they know about it and are awake) can hold them to account.

Many a cynic will call this greenwashing, or that it’s generally pointless and too late.

But there are some companies, such as Air New Zealand – operating within one of the most carbon-costly global industries – who took the promise of New Zealand two decades ago and remain as rigorously committed to this competitive advantage as ever. They lead policy before it’s policy.

Fifteen years ago, Jeremy Moon touched a piece of Merino wool and instantly knew that this amazing fibre was going to be his life’s work. The philosophy that he built is now absorbed into a much more powerful set of global brands. But it remains the same ethos: it paid sheep farmers a forward price for their wool, enabling security and sustainable profits.

Icebreaker in return demanded strict animal welfare and environmental policies and standards of every farmer, and proof of source to each flock with every swing tag. They called it the BaaCode, of course, where you can see the station the owl wool comes from, hear from the farmers who grow the wool, and indeed meet the sheep that produced it.

The stories about business that enable New Zealand to remain viable in all its forms need to be told better. Hopefully we can share others, because they too tell us How To Get There.

Of course, this occurred in the same week as DairyNZ was telling the Parliamentary Environment Select Committee that the proposed methane target was unachievable and in fast would likely lead to lower production levels that will likely be filled by other global producers. They forgot to mention that the production drive in New Zealand dairy since GATT is actually killing this country.

So it’s always going to be an open contest, sure.

But people like the Sustainable Business Council and the Sustainable Leaders Group have lead government policy for a while and now see it in legislative print – rather than being led by government. You can see more of them in the likes of Good Magazine: people who risk their shirts to turn their little corner of the world for profit and for the planet, as best they can.

99 comments on “Embark 2019 ”

  1. Gosman 1

    How is this not just "Green washing"?

    • In Vino 1.1

      Why don't you explain something yourself for once? How is it "just" Green washing?

  2. Robert Guyton 2

    The Icebreaker owl was a surprisesmiley

    Good stuff though, (if it's better than bad, it's good).

    I don't see what James Shaw should shoulder the blame for poor coverage of the initiatives; he's not the only source of news. He should, rather, be congratulated for these developments, if indeed he's behind them in a significant way.

    • Andre 2.1

      I kinda feel the need to point out a downside to Icebreaker and wool production in general: it's actually quite high in climate-changing emissions.

      One kilo of wool equates to roughly one kilo of methane emitted. Whether you count that as around 25 kg CO2eq (100 year timescale) or 85 kg CO2eq (20 year timescale), and how you divvy up the emissions between the wool and the meat when it finally gets eaten is all up for argument.

      No matter how you argue it though, in comparison to production of plastic fibre where the emissions are of the order of ten grams CO2 per kg of fibre produced, wool clothing production is vastly more emissions intensive than plastic clothing production. But of course the microplastics pollution problem is an incredibly ugly downside in comparison to wool's eventual biodegradeability.

      As always, there are no good answers, just less crap answers. And in the case of clothing and other fibre products, the least crap answer is to buy less and continue to use what you have until it is genuinely worn out.

      • Robert Guyton 2.1.1

        Or buy from an Op shop.

      • bwaghorn 2.1.2

        How does 1kg of wool stack up against 1 kg of polypropylene that is made from fossil fuel and never truly breaks down

        • Andre

          Depends on how you weigh the relative shittiness of heating the climate vs creating stuff that damn near takes forever to break down and harms critters that mistake it for food. For me personally, my wastewater goes through the Mangere treatment plant which has a good chance of catching most of the microplastic, and end-of-life clothing will end up in a reasonably well-managed landfill, so I lean towards plastic. In other circumstances I might lean more towards wool. Whatever the material choice is, reducing unnecessary washing (if it passes the sniff test and looks ok, it's clean) and using it till it really is worn out are still the easiest ways to reduce footprint.

          That the raw material for plastic clothing is the currently the same raw material as fossil fuel is a bit of a red herring. If oil wasn't being used for fuel, then oil used for plastics would be just properly viewed as just another resource extracted from the environment by a mining industry. In that case, it would be appropriate to compare the environmental footprints of wool production vs the footprint needed for oil extraction (at a much reduced demand than we currently have).

          Wool production uses a lot of land for the amount of wool you get, has fertiliser inputs and contributes to waterway degradation, whereas the better oil production facilities (the only ones that would still be operating if fossil fuel demand disappeared) are actually fairly compact and non-polluting. So that balance could conceivably favour plastic.

          Right now, the plastics industry allegedly uses about 12% of world oil and gas production (I'm surprised the number is that high). If oil was only used for plastics, that could be supplied from relatively low-impact low-risk wells, rather than the high-impact high-risk methods currently driven by the huge demand for fuels. Furthermore, the plastics industry uses oil because it's cheap, there are plenty of bio-derived materials it could use as feedstock instead, for just a bit more cost.

          • New view

            Andre. You’re a fact and numbers guy. Clever but in my opinion sort of stupid. Wool is a bi product to farmers unless you’re farming merinos. So it’s a bonus product for most sheep farmers. The arguments against the methane/ co2 is trivial bullshit or sheepshit. If you are a numbers man work out how many bad gases are released into the atmosphere by sheep world wide and then tell me how it compares with co2 emissions from the 12% of plastics that are produced from the oil. The number would still be small. I haven’t done the homework and don’t intend to. You base your argument on that so do the homework. Compare products that have the same distribution rates or don’t bother. I’d rather deal with an old wool blanket that can be used to keep weeds down in the garden than your plastic any day of the week. I think The Auckland conference showed good initiative. Just my opinion of course.

            • Andre

              Total emissions from all sheep worldwide vs total emissions from all plastic industry worldwide is a fucking pointless comparison. Trying to compare plastic vs wool only matters when you're trying to compare competing products made from the different materials.

              So if I want a warm top, and I'm comparing a merino Icebreaker to a Polarfleece, the only sensible comparison is the impact of that 1/2 kilo of merino wool to the impact of the 1/2 kilo of polyester fibre. From a climate change perspective, it's pretty damn clear the Polarfleece is much lower impact.

              However, if you're comparing carpet and you persuade yourself that the coarser wool used is just a by-product from meat production that would otherwise be thrown away so you attribute zero environmental impact to it, then sure that makes wool carpet a lower impact option. But I suggest if you're going to that mental contortion to justify to yourself that zero impact is attributable to that wool, than your mind was already fully made up.

              When it comes to disposal, you apparently have a use for worn-out wool clothing, and I don't. Taking end-of-life uses into consideration is fully valid. But I suggest that vast majority of products made from wool end up in landfill, just like the vast majority of plastic products. The much bigger end-of-life consideration is those that end up loose in the environment, and for those items the biodegradability of wool makes it the hands-down winner. On the end-of-life aspect of the issue.

              • New view

                You brought the comparisons up in detail Andre. I agree with you. Fucking pointless.

    • lprent 2.2

      Though that was a nice typo touch myself. I just corrected it – but left the owl visible.

      • Robert Guyton 2.2.1

        Very wise.

        • greywarshark

          If one was looking at the value equivalence in all ways of a sheep and a human, would the sheep have a better rating than a human? What about a goat measured against a human? They can be more destructive of the environment in their daily forage forays, though sheep crop closely. Perhaps birds are better; they drop seeds around. Perhaps we should eat more seed items, and spread our dried, anaerobic toilet compost in appropriate places that enabled free germination in an area designated as wild, for say three years, then move to another.

  3. marty mars 3

    greenwashing indeed – they caused it and now feel guilty – boo hoo for them – they won't be able to fix anything because they are trying to pull themselves up by their own shoelaces.

    • Robert Guyton 3.1

      Really? How then, would you recognise genuine efforts to improve an industry's performance; you'd class every action as "greenwash", wouldn't you?

      • marty mars 3.1.1

        would I?

        if you think the thinking which caused the problems will fix it then you are silly imo. If you think these businesses will make profit and be sustainable you are silly imo. If you think this isn't driven by guilt and washing of various colours you are silly imo.

        Sure do the various carbon swapping/stitching/good news story stuff as much as you can but please don't think you've saving the world. Eat some HUMBLE pie and then we will see where you fit in.

        • Robert Guyton

          You think I'm "silly"?

          I reckon businesses are run by people and people can have road to Damascus experiences and transcend the beast of business they are part of, changing its path and humanising it, especially at this point in time where imperatives such as climate change are pressing in on those individuals.

          Do you you think that no business at all could be sustainable?

          Do you think there are no other drivers to change than guilt?

          I have other, perhaps silly, thoughts.

          • marty mars

            whatever – I have better things to do that debate semantics with you.

          • marty mars

            Robert I didn't mean you personally. Eat some humble pie etc was directed at the companies not you – I hope you know that I don't have any negative thoughts about you – I think you're a good guy – I'd be upset if I thought you thought something else.

        • greywarshark

          Who is 'you' marty mars? You sound very disrespectful towards someone attempting to do good. And who is an elder. I thought that Maori were trying to hold onto their patterns of respectful tikanga to the elders.

          • marty mars


            • In Vino

              marty – are you sure you don't still have the certainty of youth?

              • marty mars

                I've only just now realised how my comments have been interpreted – I think Robert is awesome, end of. I don't agree with everything he says but I like and respect him. My comment above was directed at the companies and it is not easy to read that in the comment. My bad. Sorry.

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    Better late than never, eh? That's how I felt when Phillip Mills launched Pure Advantage eight years ago. https://pureadvantage.org/who-we-are/

    Greenwash is valid cynicism, sure, but as long as the left keeps defaulting operation of the economy to the right, businesses will drive progress. So Ad is right to report it happening.

    Speaking of which I saw Cameron Bagrie bemoaning the lack of growth to Duncan Garner this morning. Apparently the capitalists are struggling to get it up. No more thrusting, all gone limp. The gist is that they need the govt to give them a helping hand. Nanny-statism? He didn't say that. Honesty would lose him all his clients.

    • Gosman 4.1

      If he didn't state it then I suggest it is likely your own anti-business bias which is driving your perception.

      • Dennis Frank 4.1.1

        My bias is anti-bad-business, actually. Bad business comes in a variety of forms, and they have been well-documented throughout history. Good business is just as traditional. Let's have more of that, please.

    • lprent 4.2

      Speaking of which I saw Cameron Bagrie bemoaning the lack of growth to Duncan Garner this morning.

      Local economy? There doesn’t appear to be much wrong with the export figures for business. Just problems with the amounts we’re importing again. Opps that was Jan with its highest Jan BoT deficit.

      Looks better in June.

      What always strikes me when I look at the export categories is just how obsolete they are. They haven’t changed since I was a kid. For instance could anyone point to the software we export? In particular the stuff that isn’t inside machinery? They’re probably in the manufactured items – other.

      There is nothing much that distinguishes between commodities exported in a raw state and those exported in a highly processed state.

      These days we export a lot of financial products. You can’t even see them in the spreadsheets of exports and imports.

      • Pat 4.2.1

        Theres another side to that equation…NZ imported around $US44 billion worth of goods and services in 2018…around 5 billion (12%) of that was mineral fuels, more than the annual trade deficit….there can be financial benefits from going green.

        • Gosman

          Why do you assume importing more than we export is a bad thing?

          • Andre

            Why is importing nasty polluting stuff we just burn anyway a good thing? Particularly when we have the opportunity to substitute it for non-polluting replacement stuff we could create here at much lower cost?

          • Pat

            why do you assume that is what my comment implies?

            • Gosman

              Then whether we import or produce these mineral fuels is irrelevant. It is the fuels themselves which is the problem. Pointing out they are largely imported makes no difference.

              • greywarshark

                Gosman goes on his/her calm, superior way questioning the mere activity of questioning and negating any thought and doubting every fact which is not convenient. Give up is his message you will never know what the elite know or deserve to be at the High Table and direct anything; lie back and think of Sir Roger.

              • Pat

                not so….we require/desire goods which we dont/cannot produce then we must make choices about which goods we choose…e.g we can spend that FX on oil…or we can spend it on pharmaceuticals or infrastructural requirements…less on oil means more for something else…which is more beneficial?

                A trade imbalance is not in itself a problem…a persistent trade imbalance IS (and ours is decades persistent), particularly a negative balance as its indicative that what we are producing is not desired or needed by the rest of the world to any great degree which places us in a precarious position especially in a world of diminishing resources….we will be outbid. This concurrently has implications for our currency and its desirability.

                • Gosman

                  You don't spend that money at all unless you are actually an importer.

                  • Pat

                    thats true….how are you going to sell that, even North Korea trades and theyre the closest thing we have to a closed economy on this planet?

        • lprent

          …mineral fuels, more than the annual trade deficit….there can be financial benefits from going green.

          That has been obvious since the early/mid 1970s. The technology was sorely lacking then to actually have an alternative. We went to underpowered LPG and CNG because there simply wasn’t the required energy densities required.

          However 40 years on, the densities are getting there. Of course we’d need to boot the energy hog in Bluff out. But that should have been done a while back when they started extorting too much.

          • Pat

            Yes the technology has moved on and it is now likely viable but it all counts for a big fat zero if the decisions are constantly delayed and the contrary infrastructure continues to be built

  5. Sabine 5

    oh my, we are so lucky and blessed that the CEO of Z Energy (Z Energy is a New Zealand fuel distributor with branded service stations. It comprises some of the former assets of Shell New Zealand and Chevron New Zealand. Since mid-August 2013, it has been listed on the NZX with the code ZEL.) is leading the challenge of our future………….can't make this shit up.

    surely we all feel safer now.

    • Andre 5.1

      Even someone as bullish as I am about electrifying everything still recognises there are still a lot of applications where we're a long way away from being able to substitute for the energy density of liquid fuels. Of the substantial liquid fuel suppliers in New Zealand, Z genuinely has shown leadership in developing ways to produce biofuels and integrate them into a supply chain. So yeah, Z really does have something substantial to offer a business group looking at transitioning to sustainability.

      • Sabine 5.1.1

        yeah, they gonna offer us more of the same 🙂

        disclaimer, before leaving Germany for good i worked for Shell in Hamburg. I do not ever expect any oil company to do anything for the greater good of the world. But they will protect their bottom line one fucked up piece of earth a time.

        • marty mars

          imo they (the oil companies and energy companies) knew (in general) about the global climate disaster coming up very early and suppressed and ignored the evidence so they could make more money. Sure those fossils are dead or gone now and new leaders run the show – the whole industry is tainted and a fast fix ain't coming…

          • Sabine

            T'was in 92 when i was stenographing a meeting at Euro Shell and everyone was giddy that in the future drilling for oil in the russian tundra was a thing.

            And these guys are going to be leaders in our collective weaning of the drug that is fossil fuel? I do have a very hard time believing that no matter how smooth and suave their talking points.

            • Andre

              AFAIK Z has zero remaining commercial connection with Shell. Shell's remaining commerical activity in NZ is pretty much limited to fossil fuel extraction in Taranaki.

              So I wouldn't slam Z for Shell's nefarious activities, past and current. OTOH, I'd be damn suspicious of Z's commercial dominance in NZ, with roughly 50% market share across their various brands. I'd boycott them because of that dominance, except the alternatives are BP (fuck'em, Deepwater Horizon), Mobil (fuck'em, Exxon Valdez and their decades of hiding what they knew and lying about climate), and Gull (they're Australian, and my car needs premium but I'm not paying their price for 98).

              • Sabine

                they sell gasoline.

                i rest my case.

                • Jess NZ

                  Yes. All you have to do is follow the money to see what they will do.

                • You_Fool

                  My impression is that Z know the writing is on the wall for fossil fuels, and so are wondering where they will make their money without them. This is better than them sticking their head in the sand.

  6. Chris T 6

    How did they all get to the Auckland talk fest?

    • Robert Guyton 6.1

      Same way the Nats got to theirs.

      • Chris T 6.1.1

        Emission spewing jet airliner

        Got it

        Anyone thought about showing them Skype for business?

        • Shadrach

          There is a history of hypocrisy with these talk fests. Al Gore is one of the worst.

          • Andre

            Hypocrites they indeed are. But we also have a genuinely serious problem and the sooner we make big changes the better our future is going to be. Focusing on the hypocrisy of some of the prominent voices arguing for change is only useful if your purpose is to distract from trying to make changes.

            • Shadrach

              We are making changes, significant ones. Mankind is making real progress towards adapting to climate change and other environmental challenges. Looking through the program, this event could have been done as a series of pod-casts and web conferences. Global businesses have been deploying theses tools and techniques for years.

              • You_Fool

                That ignores the benefit of actual physical connections, getting these people in one room so they can plan and enact real change is important

                • Shadrach

                  Large and highly successful organisations operate in the way I described.

                  • You_Fool

                    And yet still value face to face meetings as well. Not that remote-work or teleconferences don't work, they do… but there is a human-ness needed sometimes that comes from standing in the same room as someone

                    • Shadrach

                      Considering the meeting was about climate change, and those attending most likely have a view that emissions are a major contributor to climate change, I would have thought they could have been a bit more creative about how they develop that 'human-ness' more responsibly.

      • Stuart Munro. 6.1.2

        Faustian summons?

  7. greywarshark 7

    It is pragmatic to encourage the businesses that want to take on a greenwash and start squeezing the pus out of their pimples. We may be able to roll back their old practices and get them investing in solar arrays etc. and other smart technology which combines with green ideas which will help to prevent us going right over the brink of the precipice. Smart people who are empathetic with their fellows and the planet will recognise this and not spend all their time in a contest to be the most negative in showing how informed and cynical they are, and considering it all a technicolour yawn.

  8. This post should be called CorporateMania, akin to your accusation of Jacindamania.

    Tweaks over decades to a business model founded on uncompensated pollution won't fix the imminent environmental pollution collapse any more than tweaks to the minimum wage will avert social collapse.

    No bonus points from me until we hear some transformational business model changes, along the lines discussed by Dr Joy who is genuine about saving the environment and not the bottom line. High polluters probably won't survive.


    • greywarshark 8.1

      Sure JessNZ these are baby steps. But babies once they want to walk want to run the little blighters. A bit more encouragement so they can get onto Dr Joy's path. Then we can all be joyful – for a few minutes – because we can never relax and let go again. So many are not ready to get out of their easy chairs until the taxi arrives at the door. But they never doubt that it will take them somewhere nice. We have to do the thinking for them; their minds are ossified. So be encouraging will you, not just wishing and hoping and angry because it isn't happening straight away. The speaker the other day said only ten years I think.

      I think it was this man whop referred to the short time, whish we have heard before but is now being starkly stated. On Radionz link at bottom.
      09:30 Dr Florian Graichen – Tackling plastic waste

      Dr Florian Graichen is Science Leader, Biopolymers and Chemicals, at Scion in Rotorua. Scion is a Crown research institute that specialises in research and technology development for the forestry and wood industries.

      Dr Graichen has an extensive background in developing renewable and sustainable ‘green’ resources, including helping develop bioderived materials for the chemical industry to use instead of those taken from the petrochemical industry. Recently, Dr Graichen spoke at the Royal Society Te Apārangi Parliamentary Speaker’s Science Forum about how New Zealand could tackle plastic waste through circular economy approaches.


      • Jess NZ 8.1.1

        I'm not angry, I'm realistic. It's too late to promise baby steps and get applauded. Baby steps should have started decades ago when the first scientists' warnings came out.

        Companies like Fonterra don't and can't want to 'run' along Joy's path as their model really can't flex that far. The owners hope that consumers don't see that until the last of the profits are deposited into safe accounts.

        Mania to applaud the highest polluters for doing PR (yes, greenwashing).

        Biodegradable packaging is a great step so we can package sustainable products from sustainable businesses, assuming we transform quickly enough to sustain modern industries.

        • Robert Guyton

          Fonterra will change when it's profitable for them to do so.

          • Jess NZ

            In what business model can they be profitable and sustainable? Currently they are profitable via irresponsible pollution.

            'In fact Victoria University ecologist Dr Mike Joy co-penned a study three years ago which said the costs of repairing the damage from dairy farming could be as high as $15b.

            Dairying's impacts are chiefly: the amount of water used to create milk; the effluent that pollutes the soil, aquifers and waterways; the way in which soil is compacted by heavy animals; and the greenhouse gases that cattle emit.

            In addition dairy processors are significant energy users and greenhouse gas emitters. Fonterra burns about 410,000 tonnes of coal to turn liquid milk into powder.'

            And the whole article is relevant at:

            • greywarshark

              We need to get behind the companies doing the right thing and then help the ones that will make the effort to change and try for a soft landing. Anger is a luxury. It is wrong to go into an orgy of recrimination. We have to use anger in small doses of sharp energy to do lots of small projects aimed at a viable response to the future. You should realise that all efforts should be going to practical scientific and social change. That is where the energy should be directed. I don't want lots of people to be suffering, but many already are, and it won’t improve while there is is so much energy going into applying neo lib practices. We have opened our gates to this toxic shit and now we must learn to deal to it carefully to prevent more people being scarred by it.

              So don't try to be purer and far-seeing more than others and tell us about what has been done, as if you enjoy being the victim of gross ignorance and pursuit of self – we were pulled into that and didn't know what it would lead to. Now we have to turn 180o degrees and keep striving.

              Think of Touching the Void *- the guy slips into a crevasse and is hanging unable to get a hold. His partner has nothing to tie the rope to and is slipping himself. He cuts the dangling one free and he falls to the bottom and breaks his leg. He recovers and being numbed by the cold and still having strength, he pulls himself forward, feels a breeze, sees a wee light, finds his way out, rolls down the mountain, crawls through crevasse covered area, and ends at camp at the feet of his partner. Amazing and he didn't waste time blaming anyone, it just was how things had to be done. *https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Touching_the_Void_(book)

              With determination, practicality, information, combining skills, inner knowledge and strength and using all the tools we have in an ethical way we can save ourselves and a lot of what we have and survive. We can share knowledge, vow to aid each other and when you work with and for the group you respect and who returns that respect and supports you as part of a team, and is kind, that is what is needed. Don't get angry at wrongs, but make sure they are remembered and understood and there is no repetition, and that slipping into bad thinking is noticed and limited.

              • Sabine

                no we don't need to do any of this coddling.

                we need to stop buying crap we don't need.

                we need to start walking, cycling, or using public transport

                we need to create communitites that grow most of their food

                we need to set our priorities right, and shortland street should be on the lowest priority given

                we need to literally bankcrupt companies that would have us live on a planet where we need these companies to survive.

                And if you are not angry yet, then you are not paying attention but you are keeping your eyes shut, your ears closed while singing lalalal lets help those companies that sold us car and took away our trams, walkways, public parks, polluted our rivers, oceans and lakes.

              • Jess NZ

                Greywarshark, you assign me of a lot of emotions I haven't shown in my posts, while trying to appeal to other emotions as if they were debate.

                Thanks for your efforts. Got anything real? Do I need to add you to my ‘do not engage’ list?

                • greywarshark

                  Fair enough don't engage. I will go on working towards a sensible pathway that considers the whole community and tries to do practical things for wellbeing while taking steps to change as fast as possible. Probably we have nothing in common.

                  • Jess NZ

                    Are you saying you were at Embark presenting solutions or something?

                    If considering the whole community means letting the status quo stop us saving the whole comfy existence of humans on earth, then we don't have anything in common. That's not sensible. That's denial.

  9. mauī 9

    The New Zealand economy was built on the wool trade, once we had wool factories up and down the country and an industry involving thousands of New Zealanders.

    Icebreaker merely capitalized on the shifting global economy, moved production offshore and now sucks profits offshore from a New Zealand raw material.

    We would be better off economically and environmentally the way things were.

  10. Stuart Munro. 10

    I'm a little skeptical of Air New Zealand as a supposedly green corporate – if we take AGW seriously theirs is a sunset industry. Better they diversify away from air travel to something more sustainable than shop around for the cheapest dodgy carbon offsets.

    • Jess NZ 10.1


      It's not hard to identify the sunset industries. Industries have had to adjust to realities before and some disappear. We've already wasted a lot of time propping up polluters (impossible futures investment) instead of listening to sensible voices about the possible futures.

    • Andre 10.2

      I wouldn't be quite so quick to write them off as a sunset industry.

      Recently I saw a credible calculation of current battery energy density, energy requirements of various aircraft etc that concluded commercial passenger aircraft relying on batteries could replace dino-juice planes for flights up to 2000km. Just using current technology, not factoring in future improvements.

      Last time I looked into it, current world bio-fuel production is about 1/3 of total aviation industry fuel use. So a zero fossil-fuel world with electric short flights and biofuel longer flights is entirely plausible.

      • Pat 10.2.1

        A long way off even if we ignore the energy inefficiency of biofuels…in NZs case we use around 1.3 billion litres of aviation fuel p.a….as at 2015 we produced a total of around 6 million litres of biofuel (of all types)

        • Andre

          When I looked into it, I compared on an energy basis, not litres basis. So if the worldwide biofuel industry works out how to produce more energy-dense fuels, such as butanol rather than ethanol, they'll get even closer. We shouldn't mistake the pathetically laggard efforts being made in New Zealand as indicative of what's happening worldwide.

          • Pat

            As Kevin Anderson says, by all means continue the research, but do not rely on it be successful

          • Stuart Munro.

            I'm sure there are technologies that can appreciably reduce carbon footprints, but until we're seeing some of them trialed or prototyped locally professions of concern about emissions would seem to be no more than that. Diversification to other transport modes would at least argue some kind of engagement with the issues.

            A vactrain between Auckland and Wellington for instance, would save a lot of avgas, and it would require a corporation with the size and engineering safety perspective of Air New Zealand to operate one. A less ambitious highspeed rail link would also suffice, but at this time neither seem to be contemplated. Net zero avgas will require a power of a lot of planting without such a substitution.

      • Jess NZ 10.2.2

        If they changed all their fleet to use them today, would it save the industry and reverse global pollution problems?

        We depend not only on solutions but industries radically adopting them.

        • Andre

          The industry has precisely zero incentive to change and use them. They have no need to be "saved", they're in a spectacularly privileged position. If you have a need to get angrier, research how many taxes airlines manage to avoid having levied on them that ordinary schmucks have to pay, particularly on fuels.

          If somehow the alien unicorns turned up and started excreting electric and biofuel airliners and supply plants out their back ends, it wouldn't reverse global pollution problems. It would only stop airlines further adding to them.

          Meanwhile, on actual earth, one of the quickest, most effective and politically palatable measures we could take to reduce the damage airlines do is to reduce or eliminate the cushy tax treatments airlines get, and start charging them for dumping their hazardous waste into the atmosphere. Ie, a carbon tax.

      • Dukeofurl 10.2.3

        Thats just fanatasy about airplanes relying on battery technology up to 2000km. Some small scale work with 10 seaters or less for flights under 20 min.

        " Just using current technology, not factoring in future improvements."

        The energy density isnt there compared with aviation kerosene) , not even close. As planes are very weight dependent ( more weight more energy consumption), plus other features.

        Its clear you dont have the technical background when you make those sort of claims

        People who know have spelt it out

        We learned that batteries as energy stores leave a lot to be desired. Here a summary:

        • The battery stores 40 times less energy per kilo than Jet fuel.
        • While jet fuel gets consumed during flight, the battery weighs the same at take-off and landing.
        • A battery needs 20 times more space than jet fuel for the same energy content.

        The inefficiencies make the battery virtually impossible as an energy store for longer range aircraft. In addition, the battery has four times higher maintenance costs than gas turbines; it needs replacement after 1,500 charge cycles.


        • Andre

          That 40x comparison is to the chemical energy stored in the fuel vs the electrical energy stored in a battery. Electrical energy gets turned into mechanical energy around 3 to 4 times more efficiently than fuel chemical energy gets turned into mechanical energy, because that chemical energy has to get turned into heat first by burning it. Anyone ignoring or hiding that aspect right off the bat, as your article writer does, has a credibility deficit right from the start.

          That article is only two years old, but there have been significant, if incremental improvements in battery engineering since then. Particularly with respect to managing charging to improve battery cycle life.

          The issues around around weight reduction during flight due to burning fuel while a battery stays constant, and that a battery is around 1/10 the propulsive energy density of fuel are some of the reasons why current technology might get an electric plane to a 2000km range maximum at best, while commercial flights are regularly running longer than 15,000km routes (the A350 XWB Ultra Long Range claims 18,000 km).

          Now maybe that 2000km hypothetically possible range using current technology is optimistic, maybe 1500 or 1200 is more realistic. Even at 1200km, that covers a hell of a lot of the flying that gets done. In NZ, it would cover almost all domestic flights.

          But because airlines are exempt from many of the taxes that get levied on fuels for other users, they really have fuck-all incentive to push for an electric option.

          • Dukeofurl

            Thats partly correct. The gas turbine engine is 40% of the efficency of the electric motor. Dont know where you get 3-4 times.

            Anyway Leeham model an actual plane flight from first principles and due to the 'weight problem' and look directly at energy use find the electric plane uses MORE energy than the fuel one.


            "As described, our electric commuter has an empty weight of 6 tonnes with a Max Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 7 tonnes (one tonne of passengers with bags is added).

            "Our gas turbine design has three tonnes empty weight. To this we add one tonne of passengers with bags and 500kg of fuel. Take-Off Weight (TOW) is 4.5 tonnes. During the trip ~100kg of fuel is used. We land with 4.4 tonnes landing weight.

            They get into such things as induced drag – which increases with weight of plane and other such things

            "we assumed a consumption for the electric variant of 45kWh during take-off, 160kWh during climb, 250kWh during cruise and 20kWh during descent and landing. This gives a total energy consumption of 430kWh.

            "For the lighter gas turbine variant, we reduce these values with 20%. The fan shafts then consume 345kWh."

            As for your claims for 'multiples' of increase in battery efficency' they run up against hard boundaries of physical chemistry and issues around anode and cathode designs.

            Look for more detail on this


            The aircraft engineer who wrote the series had a follow up, and its even worse:

            I wrote batteries are 40 times heavier per energy unit (kWh/kg) than Jet fuel. A more correct figure would be 100 times. Battery systems designed for the first electric aircraft have a systems level energy specific weight of 0.12 kWh/kg and jet fuel is at 12kWh/kg. The battery systems might improve to 0.30kWh/kg over the next decade but not more. Not for certifiable battery systems. This is what Vittadini’s team told me.

            So an efficency gain of 2.5X over next decade still leaves them at 40x behind.

            Thats a big issue , safety is paramount for planes, and getting jet engines certified as reliable is a big step. Certifiable batteries are even bigger hurdle.


            To me you talking about 2000km trips isnt even on the radar

            • Andre

              Bjorn still doesn't seem to get his head around the idea that the numbers for fuel energy density it's quoting is for the chemical energy in the fuel, not the mechanical energy you get out of burning it in an engine and using it to drive a propeller or ducted fan. That this aspect is being hidden suggests to me his motivation is more propaganda than factual exposition.

              The very best aircraft engines operating at their best cruising point are operating at about 36% efficiency, and they go down from there. 1/0.36 is pretty close to 3. While a good electric motor will be 96% efficient or higher. A significant part of jet engine inefficiency comes from the very high exhaust speed. Trying to get more energy out of the very high speed exhaust and into the slower bypass air around the turbine is the driver for making the fan diameters ever larger, and for innovations like geared turbofans. An electric propulsion system simply won't have that source of inefficiency.

              Sure there's a massive technology proving and certification hurdle to get over. No doubt that's contributing to the lack of enthusiasm for developing an electric alternative.

              Dunno where you think I claimed "multiples of increase in battery efficiency". My actual words were significant, if incremental. Multiples increases in battery efficiency have only been demonstrated in the lab so far, none appear close to production.

              Sure, a 2000km (or 1200km) range electric airliner isn't on the radar yet. Nobody has even seriously started trying to develop one. What the big airline manufacturers and their remoras are saying now sounds exactly like what the big automakers were saying about electric cars 10 years ago. Complete with the same kinds of misdirections and half truths. Then Tesla released the Model S.

              • Dukeofurl

                What do you mean It is covered that the fuel engine is only 40% efficent in fuel use compared to electric. ( yes its spread over a number of different articles)

                Thats when they look at the total energy used for the flight in kWh.

                You dont seem to consider at all that due to the large weight increase on the battery version means the drag is higher and the end result is battery consumes MORE kWh for the same flight compared to fuel version.

                Thats when your lack of knowledge comes in, aerodynamics takes away the extra efficency of the electric motor compared to turbine.

                There seems to be a discussion about an electric version of an ATR72 , the plane that flies within NZ

                Th battery technology situation currently was even worse than he assumed and future technology at the level that is suitable for aeroplane certification may only bring us near to what he had as a starting point.

                • Andre

                  Bjorn and your bolding continue to emphasise the raw chemical energy in the fuel, not what is output from the heat engine it's burned in. Yes, you and he do occasionally do a mumble mumble 40% mumble, but that's a fig leaf to cover the gross misrepresentations being emphasised, as well as being a fairly significant overstatement of what those engines actually achieve. As well as understating what the disrupting alternative actually achieves.

                  You appear to think the claim is electric aircraft can completely replace all current aircraft. That's not what's claimed, the claim is electrics will be able to do short routes. That short route limitation is in part because of the acknowledged much lower energy density of batteries, in part because the aircraft won't get lighter during flight (this is particularly significant on the longest flights where the take-off weight may be about half fuel, not so much on shorter flights that only use a fraction of the plane's range).

                  Then there's many small-scale efforts like the Eviation Alice. To be sure, they've missed their scheduled first flight date of mid-June this year, so they may be just vapourware or a scam-the-investors scheme. Or they may be the aviation industry's tzero. Or Tesla. But if a tiny start-up can even get close to what they are claiming, then it points to a hell of a lot more being possible with real oomph behind the effort.

                  • Dukeofurl

                    Dont go into mansplaining me, about other projects. You have provided no real links to backup your claims about batterys, the ones used for aviation and a typical flight profile

                    The energy use from both types of fuel is put into kWh so they can be compared. I think you dont have the technical background to understand the conversation. Thats OK, people like your self get engineering stuff wrong all the time

                    The basic truth is the higher efficency of the electric motor is lost because of the massive extra weight of batteries increasing the drag ,its basic aerodynamics.

                    You are just thinking like a car , where there are significant efficency savings and weight doesnt matter so much. hello and welcome to real world where Evation Alice dont really deliver on promises, but thats for another time.

              • Dukeofurl

                "Bjorn still doesn't seem to get his head around the idea that the numbers for fuel energy density it's quoting is for the chemical energy in the fuel, not the mechanical energy you get out of burning it in an engine and using it to drive a propeller or ducted fan."

                Thats totally false. The idea is compare the total energy for each part and the flight overall. That way we can compare the fuel used and the power from battery used. The end result is plane goes from A to B.

                Fuel used is less efficent than electric of course , but its the total used for flight. Of course the electric motor uses less energy in a 'test situation' and if the planes were same takeoff weight the electric would be well ahead.

                Reality of heavy batteries and higher drag of the electric version changes everything. The total energy used in spite of higher efficency is still greater . The elephant in the room is the higher drag from the planes higher weight- you cant yet get your head around that and that the drag increases to the square of weight increase.

                If the flights modelled are exactly the same plane just one has a turbine driving a propellor the other an electric motor driving the propellor- which is the best approach

                You do know that higher drag means more energy consumption. Maybe not ?

  11. Jess NZ 11

    Big corporate environmental naughties don't get moved to the nice list by promising to be slightly less naughty someday if we'll be patient. Support alternative industries that are already good to grow bigger.

    • New view 11.1

      You make me laugh. Don’t know how old you are but ten years ago these issues were hardly in the news. Unless you ride a bike everywhere and have done for the last decade, you drive a car and drink milk bought in plastic bottles. If you haven’t used those products I’m sure there are other nasty ones you have. Yet the big bad industries that produce this stuff are the the bad guys. You are either perfect or a hypocrite. Which Is It.

      • Jess NZ 11.1.1

        Not in the news, except for the average Kiwi and major parties to mock environmentalists as tree-hugging hippies, perhaps? The Values Party (origins of the Greens) started in 1972 and have been trying to get NZ's attention ever since.

        I drive a hybrid (5 years?) and have been a vegan focusing on low-waste for 25+ years, and I expect your first reaction will be to mock that too, because inside you know we all need to do better but you don't want to admit that you could have done more already, and yes, you knew.

        Ha Ha, if it makes you feel better. But you know the world isn’t split into perfection and hypocrites. We don’t need anyone to be perfect environmentalists. We need everyone to be mostly environmentalists, instead of laughing at the statistics they provide and buying more toys.

        • New view

          Point taken. Congratulations on good life style habits. My comment to you is the companies you dislike make the products that the population wants. Of course they are there to make a profit and in time they’ll change their products because they’ll have to. They aren’t naughty in that sense just companies making a buck for their shareholders who are us. Some behave badly some don’t. Just like people. The companies meeting in Auckland need our encouragement as they are trying to make an effort on environmental issues.

          • Jess NZ

            I appreciate your consideration. I'm all in for being consumers who support industry's environmental efforts, as they're desperately needed. I think we also need to be realistic about what are genuine efforts that will have results that make a difference to us, and what is primarily PR.

            It bothers me to think that this meeting will be used as evidence of some of these companies ‘doing something’ when they’ve been little but obstacles in the past. Surely I’m not the only one skeptical about ‘plans’ actually being implemented? Businesses’ main product being hot air? 🙂

  12. Robert Guyton 12

    "Workshops with actual plans attached from major business. That’s not common."

    I guess we're questioning whether those plans, if implemented, will do what's needed.

    We can only guess, using our experience as a guide.

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