A gap has emerged between what Kiwis are looking for from products and services, and what businesses believe they want, when it comes to climate action.
Research from EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), the agency that backs Gen Less, reflects that 82%1 of New Zealand consumers want businesses to do more to reduce their environmental impact.
Yet, only 24%2 of New Zealand businesses believe their customers or suppliers are encouraging them to do more for the planet.
This reinforces a growing preference for businesses who prioritise being climate friendly. A 2019 study by Perceptive, Porter Novelli and Sustainable Business Council similarly found 71% of New Zealanders to be actively researching sustainability practices of brands before making a purchase – that’s over three million adult Kiwis.
“What’s encouraging, is that this pattern seems persistent, despite the pressures of the pandemic,” said EECA Group Manager of Marketing and Communications, Jo Bye.
“There is opportunity for businesses of all sizes to reduce their harmful energy use and to make cleaner choices that will help mitigate the effects of climate change.”
Business is a significant carbon emitter, with responsibility for 40% of New Zealand’s energy-related emissions.
“In addition to what consumers are saying, businesses are also facing increasing expectation from the wider environment – including through national emissions budgets, new climate-related regulation and reporting requirements, the soon-to-be-released Emissions Reduction Plan and advice that’s now coming into the public sphere such as the recently released IPCC report,” said Bye.
EECA has this week launched its new Gen Less campaign based on this opportunity gap, ‘Open for Climate Friendly Business’. The campaign encourages small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to tap into the three million Kiwis who want to throw their consumer power behind businesses who take action on climate change.
“In addition to being on the right side of history, there are a lot of benefits that can be realised by decarbonising and becoming more climate-friendly,” said Bye.
“We’ve heard from businesses leaders who, based on their climate action, have then been in a position to expand product lines and attract a whole new customer base. It can also help with the recruitment and retention of staff which we know is particularly important right now.”
EECA’s Gen Less behaviour change efforts, like this latest push to encourage ‘climate friendly business’, sits alongside its wider decarbonisation work, which includes regulating and co-investing to help New Zealand transition to low-carbon energy technologies and practises.
Across its programmes, EECA takes an energy efficiency first approach – helping businesses understand how to use existing equipment and processes as efficiently as possible to reduce overall energy use. This reduces energy use and costs, with a flow on to their emissions, and makes fuel switching more achievable and cheaper later.
“Lasting change will require the utilisation of all the levers we have – and a collective effort,” said Bye.
“We need to build quickly given the timeframes we have for transforming to a net-zero, climate-resilient, low-carbon Aotearoa.
“This campaign is about encouraging small to medium businesses to act, not achieve perfection.”
More information on how to get started is available on the business section of Gen Less – which includes resources, tools and stories to help inspire and enable positive climate action.