Climate change report recommendations open opportunities

4 February 2021

Scion welcomes the Climate Change Commission’s report advising the Government on how New Zealand can meet its 2050 greenhouse gas emissions targets.

“This is a thoughtful piece of work that raises some very important issues for New Zealand and reinforces that forestry has a critical role both in reducing gross emissions and using indigenous trees to offset hard to reduce emissions.

“Scion will be studying the report thoroughly and contributing to the consultation process.

“The focus on reducing gross emissions is excellent, and overall the report provides good, broad coverage of the possible approaches,” says Dr Julian Elder, Scion Chief Executive.

The report’s emphasis on technologies currently available in New Zealand means that emissions reductions would be achievable.

The areas Scion will focus on in our response are research into indigenous forest establishment, bioenergy and new materials, embodied carbon in buildings constructed from locally-grown radiata pine and embedding a circular bioeconomy approach for transformative action benefiting our society and economy.

Our successful research into nursery development, propagation and establishment of indigenous species is already enabling supporting the mass production of high quality trees that will help create indigenous permanent forests.

A gap in the report is the role that increased building in timber can have in reducing New Zealand’s emissions from the steel and concrete sectors. Scion will use evidence to make this point to the Commission, and our new three-story timber building Te Whare Nui o Tuteata is an example of what’s possible.

The recommendations for increased use of biofuels for commercial transport and solid bioenergy for industrial use is an important signal. Scion’s New Zealand Biofuels Roadmap shows how New Zealand could build a renewable low-carbon transport fuels industry. Our country could grow and process feedstock crops into green fuels particularly aimed at the heavy transport, shipping and aviation industries. For instance, the annual sustainable harvest from a forest the size of Taranaki is enough to meet the South Island’s annual transport fuel needs.

We acknowledge the report’s recommendations to reduce emissions from landfills achieved from diverting waste to recycling, composting and energy generation, and at Scion we are developing new ideas to design products that are low emissions and don’t result in waste.

“Scion is excited by the opportunities for climate action outlined in the Commission’s report and the opportunities that contribute to a circular bioeconomy. We look forward to adding to the discussion around forestry’s potential for climate change mitigation and working with government and industry to bring about the right changes,” concluded Dr Elder.