The burden to address the climate emergency does not just lie with the government
In December 2020, New Zealand declared a climate emergency. The country’s emissions had risen by almost 60% over two decades, and according to NZ Herald science reporter Jamie Norton, the declaration represented a “symbolic acknowledgement at the highest levels that we’re facing a climate change crisis – and a commitment to meet the challenge.”
The government has made strides in this area by not only signing the Paris Agreement in 2016, but also passing the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019, which enabled organisations to establish climate change policies. Parliament also committed to becoming a carbon-neutral government within the next three years.
However, it’s not just government bodies that can do their part in addressing New Zealand’s climate emergency. Lawyers for Climate Action NZ Inc. (LCANZ) outlined practical ways in which law firms can cut down their carbon footprint and become more responsible corporate citizens.
- Stay virtual. Maintain the holding of cross-border meetings online so as to limit travel
- Save through good lighting. Exchange lighting in the workplace for energy-saving LED bulbs instead, and keep devices, screens and TVs off if unnecessary
- Simplify recycling. Ensure that staff are able to easily dispose of waste in proper bins and consider compost options
- Save the trees. Reducing the need for heavy-volume printing
- Collaborate with environmental groups. Develop emissions reduction plans with the help of organisations like Ekos and Toitu Envirocare
“Climate change impacts are already locked in, with quickly increasing public awareness of likely future damage. The pace at which boards will need to confront this challenge is ramping up,” Chapman Tripp said in its Managing climate risk in New Zealand in 2020: A tool kit for directors report.