Our advice to the Climate Change Commission

The Sustainable Steel Council congratulates the Climate Change Commission (CCC) on its first draft package of advice to Government 

We largely support the CCC’s advice on the actions government needs to take to reach net-zero by 2050, and ensure a just transition to a low-emissions, climate resilient and thriving Aotearoa. However, there a some key issues that are not addressed and as outlined in submission, we’re encouraging the CC to consider.

One of these is reliance on electricity. New Zealand needs other energy pathways in addition to electricity. Transitioning from a take, make, waste economic model to a circular economy has the potential to significantly reduce New Zealand’s GHG emissions faster. The SSC encourages the CCC to be bold in directing government to work in partnership with industry sectors to create alternative pathways supported by a mix of incentives and regulations.

There is a significant opportunity for GHG emission reductions through the adoption of circular economy principals and practice. The Circularity Gap report 2020 identifies that the world is only 8.6% circular. The report identifies that 70% of GHGs result from materials handling and use and identifies enormous opportunities in transitioning to a circular economy – “through smart strategies and reduced material consumption, we find that the circular economy has the power to shrink global GHG emissions by 39% and cut virgin forest use by 28%”.

Steel is an exemplary material for the circular economy – infinitely recyclable and easily reused and repurposed. Given the scale of the challenge and the potential value which can be delivered through a circular economy the SSC encourages the CCC to direct government to focus on the circular economy opportunity.

Another major issue is emissions leakage. The report does identify emissions leakage from imported product that has been substituted for locally manufactured goods – and the resulting risk of production and investment moving out of New Zealand – but it provides no guidance to government to address emission leakage.

The EU have recognised the need to move quickly to address emissions leakage and as of 5 February 2021 have voted to adopt a carbon-border adjustment mechanism which will place “a carbon price on imports of certain goods from outside the EU, if these countries are not ambitious enough about climate change”.

It is imperative that the CCC do so now or see the irretrievable loss of high value jobs, local production and supply resilience for local construction, infrastructure and manufacturing.

Ultimately, a just transition for steel will be critical to ensuring New Zealand can deliver on its infrastructure and construction pipeline and provide resilience in face of disrupted supply chains post COVID.  New Zealand’s building, construction and infrastructure sectors depend on steel to deliver resilient structures able to withstand seismic, fire and extreme weather events. New Zealand’s food exporters, particularly dairy and wine sectors rely on high quality stainless steel fabrication.

View our submission here Sustainable Steel Council Submission to CCC draft advice report final