Zero Carbon Christchurch

On Friday 11th October, Rhys and Veronica attended the Zero Carbon Christchurch conference, hosted by Enviro-Mark Solutions and Sustainable Business Network at Ara Institute of Canterbury. Here’s a breakdown of the day from Veronica!

As the name suggests, the conference had a focus on zero carbon, so the organisers made an effort to make the day as carbon neutral as possible. We were encouraged to ditch the personal motorized transport and power ourselves to the conference, and the food we were given was either vegetarian or vegan. We were even given reusable name tags carved from wood offcuts, very cool alternative to the bog-standard plastic name tags that are usually handed out!

Dr Ann Smith (CEO of Enviro Mark Solutions) opened the conference with a talk which really emphasised the need for science-based targets and goals and the new found urgency in this area  catalysed by Greta Thunberg with her speech at the recent United Nations Climate Summit. She also made the point that you measure what you want to reduce, otherwise there is nothing to manage. Dr Ann set the tone for the day, with the other speakers passionately following in the same suit; we must have science-based targets and develop a plan to achieve these by our set date, whether that’s 2025, 2030, or 2050.

As part of the day, I got to tour Kilmarnock Enterprises – a business which employs people with intellectual disabilities and helps them to progress into mainstream employment. Last month Kilmarnock diverted almost 150 tonnes of waste from landfill! Kilmarnock undertake a wide range of projects, including E-waste recycling, and testing and cleaning of previously single-use items. It was great to see such an awesome organisation in action.

The key points or messages that Rhys and I came away with from the day are:

  • Science based targets! Without science-based targets to aim for, it’s kind of like flailing around in the dark; we need light to clearly see where we need to go.
  • Perfection is a waste of time! There is no point developing the perfect plan and having no action. We need to act now. The goal posts will always be changing so we will need to be mobile and dynamic with our solutions.
  • The current climate crisis affects us mentally and emotionally, whether we are aware of this or not; Dr Ann referred to this as climate grief. In the workshop session taken by the team at GoodSense Marketing, Kath Dewar (GoodSense founder) made the excellent point that if we don’t look after ourselves, how can we look after the planet?
  • You can’t manage what you don’t measure. We need to be measuring what we want to reduce, otherwise we have no framework to determine reduction or areas that need the improvement.
  • Collaboration will solve problems. My planet is the same as your planet, so we should be working together! After all, many hands make light work.
  • Telling your Carbon Reduction Story is important. Many of us are doing awesome things in this sphere and it needs to be shared! It often inspires other to make carbon reduction commitments too, an added bonus!

Overall, it was a thought-provoking day. It certainly got us thinking about the commitments we’ve made both personally and as an organisation to reduce ourfootprints. If you haven’t already, check out this press release where we talk about our Carbon Targets. And one last thing, awareness is one thing but action is another. Can you do something today to reduce your carbon footprint? Whether it’s how you get to work or purchasing an item which will result in less waste. A small change can often be the start of something big and we’ve got to start somewhere. If you’re struggling for ideas here’s a couple that might help.