State of Sustainability 2024

The recent Carbon and Energy Professionals Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, brought together industry leaders, experts, and innovators to discuss the latest advancements and challenges in energy efficiency and sustainability. This wrap-up highlights the key takeaways from the event, featuring insights from notable presentations, experts, and speakers.

Dive into the significant developments in the energy sector and discover the collective efforts towards a sustainable and decarbonised future.

The good – and the not so good.

Overall, there are strong tailwinds and consistent momentum for sustainability, mixed with some rough patches. 

The Good 

  • Climate change is increasingly accepted and the inane debate is less distracting. 
  • Global sustainability legislation is increasingly common and robust. 
  • Green funding options are more popular and more readily available. 
  • Large organisations with buying power are prioritising emissions reporting and reduction during procurement. 

The Bad 

  • Litigation is increasing and expanding to impact directors, testing common law and claims of tort, even in less litigious countries*. 
  • Direct government intervention and industry-oriented target setting has reduced despite concerning projections. Politics (and politicians) have weakened how legislation is being implemented. 
  • Organisations must meet the robust performance reporting requirements and benchmarks required by green funding. 
  • A lack of engagement from directors and/or executives will lead to stressful – and potentially painful – reporting delays. 

Sustainability in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In January 2023, New Zealand became the second country in the world to adopt legislation aligned with the International Sustainability Standard Board’s recommendations. 

Climate Related Disclosure legislation, which directly affects publicly listed organizations valued above NZD$60m and listed debt or funds with assets over NZD$1b, consists of three core changes: 

  1. Scenario planning of the risks and opportunities of various warming scenarios on the business. These must be considered, formalised, and well-researched to pass muster.
  2. Clear paths to achieving emission reduction targets. ‘A plan to develop a plan’ is no longer acceptable, and once-a-year reporting is no longer enough.
  3. Increased mandatory reporting of all scopes and categories. This has generated a significant increase in data volume and complexity, and reduction in data quality. Scope 3 reporting is a looming bugbear. 

The first two changes have driven demand from consultants to provide leadership and industry expertise, whereas the latter two have increased demand for productivity tools such as our BraveGen software. 

Many impacted entities were already annually reporting and verifying their emissions. However, most were not ready to tackle all three changes in the available time. We estimate that about 75% of affected businesses are using spreadsheets for measurement and reporting. That’s a problem, as many businesses still need to tackle detailed reporting on Scope 3 emissions. Spreadsheets won’t cut it. 

Meanwhile, there has been a change in Government. As Government tackles inflation and balancing the books, strategy and funding has reduced direct climate-related funding and support. This unwinding of policies has not impacted BraveGen directly and we have continued growing, though we know that consultants are challenged by incentives disappearing for electric vehicles and industrial process heat projects.  

What about in other countries?

New Zealand is not the only country that is making progress with sustainability legislation. However, there have been a number of different approaches from a variety of different countries, particularly in terms of how strict and how rapid the laws and processes are coming into effect.

European Union (EU): The EU has implemented the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), requiring large firms to disclose carbon emissions, including Scope 3, and specific climate-related risks. This directive aims to enhance transparency and accountability in corporate sustainability practices.

United States (California and SEC): California has enacted climate-related legislation requiring similar disclosures, while the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved its climate-related disclosure rule. Although these measures are steps forward, their scope and implementation speed vary.

Australia: Australia is in the final stages of implementing its Climate Related Financial Disclosure legislation. However, the timelines for Scope 3 reporting have been extended, reflecting a more gradual approach to comprehensive emissions reporting.

What’s next in 2024?

The sustainability sector continues to evolve, driven by regulatory changes, increased awareness, and technological advancements. Organizations are under increasing pressure to adopt sustainable practices and improve their environmental performance. This dynamic environment presents both challenges and opportunities for businesses and investors alike.

As we look ahead, it is crucial for companies to stay abreast of regulatory developments, invest in robust sustainability reporting systems, and engage top-level executives in their sustainability strategies. By doing so, they can not only comply with emerging standards but also leverage sustainability as a competitive advantage in the market.

SUSTAINABILITY INSIGHTS IN YOUR INBOX. Stay in the know. Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest insights and learnings to help you take meaningful climate action for your business.