Electricity distributor Orion, which is partly owned by Christchurch City Council, has committed to achieving carbon neutrality for corporate emissions by June 2022.
It is the first electricity company in New Zealand to commit to this ambitious target.
The commitment is eight years ahead of the Council’s goal for council-owned companies to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
Orion Group Chair Jane Taylor said the Group was committed to taking decisive action to address climate change.
“The world is facing a climate emergency and we need action that is both urgent, and game-changing. The Orion Group is helping businesses to reduce their energy consumption and switch to clean energy sources, and we can’t ask others to decarbonise if we don’t walk the talk ourselves.”
To meet the target, the Group is implementing initiatives to reduce its corporate emissions such as vehicle and building emissions, and investing in natural climate initiatives that will provide carbon offsets.
“We will plant more than 200 hectares of native forestry in our region. While this takes time to be planted and grow, we will purchase carbon reduction units associated with New Zealand and international carbon reduction projects,’’ Ms Taylor says.
“These nature-based solutions have additional benefits by encouraging biodiversity, providing environments for our native insect and bird wildlife, and helping with fire and erosion control.
“We’ll be creating places for future generations to use for recreation and wellbeing and that is a win all round,” Ms Taylor says.
Orion’s target covers both its electricity distribution network, and the work of its network build and maintenance subsidiary, Connetics. It excludes electrical losses of around 14,000 tonnes of carbon per year as these losses are an unescapable, natural phenomena due to heat loss as electricity passes through lines and cables, and are already largely offset by electricity generators.
Ms Taylor says the cost of purchasing offsets will be absorbed in Orion Group’s capital budget.
“Actively managing our carbon footprint is a responsibility we take very seriously. It is an investment in the sustainability of our business and in the community’s future.
“We think it is vital for us to be actively managing our emissions, and doing everything we can to help New Zealand achieve its commitments under the Paris Agreement.’’