13 Nov 2017 - Contact Energy is getting a lot of attention for its pioneering green borrowing programme, certified by Climate Bonds Initiatives (CBI) and launched in mid-August. There are expectations this will lead to further similar issues in New Zealand as the appetite for socially responsible investing and meaningful action on climate change grows. Green bonds are created to fund projects or assets that have positive environmental and/or climate benefits. Most green bonds that are issued worldwide are green “use of proceeds” or asset-linked bonds. This means investors that buy these green bonds can be confident their investment is linked to assets that will benefit the environment.
James Kilty, Contact’s Chief Generation and Development Officer says the certification reflects the low carbon nature of the company’s generation assets. “Over 80% of Contact’s electricity is produced from renewable sources and for us a responsible, innovative and sustainable approach to managing these precious resources is key.”
In the case of Contact Energy, its $1.8 billion programme allows debt investors and lenders to access a broad range of certified green debt instruments, including committed bank facilities, commercial paper and retail bonds issued by the company. The programme has been certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), one of its largest certifications to date.
Louise Tong, Head of Capital Markets and Tax at Contact, said all future funds raised by Contact are intended to be included in the Green Borrowing Programme. In addition, there is potential for the company’s existing hydropower generation assets in Clyde and Roxburgh to be included in the programme in future.
“We’re part of a Technical Working Group associated with CBI that’s trying to determine what appropriate hydropower criteria should be. Once the criteria are determined, we’ll bring our hydropower assets into the programme. This would allow Contact to include the new debt issuance planned for next year in our Green Borrowing Programme.”
“As well as shining a light on Contact’s broader sustainability initiatives, the Green Borrowing Programme is an opportunity to attract a broader pool of “green” investors who appreciate the importance of low carbon energy in addressing the challenges presented by climate change” she said.
Contact is actively focusing on the role it can play to help New Zealand transition to a low carbon economy. James Kilty notes, “There’s also a great opportunity to do more to tackle climate change in NZ, particularly in the transport sector and energy-intensive manufacturing businesses where’s there’s an opportunity to convert to cleaner electricity, backed by renewable generation, and we’re keen to work with industry and customers to help bring about this change.”
Katharine Tapley, Head of Sustainable Finance at ANZ Bank who assisted Contact to establish its Green Borrowing Programme, said it has been a catalyst for sparking significant interest from other New Zealand corporates.
“Following the Contact programme being launched, we’ve had a lot of enquiries about the potential for other green bonds to be issued into the New Zealand market,” she said.
She noted that, while the green debt market in New Zealand is lagging Australia and Asia, there is opportunity given the focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainability more broadly.
Internationally, there has been enormous growth by investors and issuers in green bonds over the past year. At the end of the first quarter of 2017, green bonds issuance stood at $US21.76 billion, up nearly 42 percent from the same period last year. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that the green bond market could increase by $US4.7 - $US5.6 trillion by 2035.
The benefits to issuing green bonds include:
1. Increased transparency about carbon reduction.
For Contact this means having assets that meet scientifically-based emissions criteria. Contact has committed to regular disclosure and reporting in relation to those criteria.
2. Funding for sustainability initiatives
Green bonds can provide capital for sustainability-related projects. In the case of Contact, this includes refinancing exiting assets, but a number of other New Zealand companies are considering green bonds to finance projects ranging from water efficiency initiatives through to green-rated buildings.
3. Demand from private investors
For investors, green bonds allow them to invest in environmentally-friendly products and services – this segment of investment funds is growing significantly, reflecting the increased focus on socially responsible investment.
4. Enhances company reputation
As Contact Energy is experiencing, when companies introduce green borrowing, they get a lot of attention. This allows companies to share their stories about the other reputational and financial benefits of sustainable business.
| A Contact Energy release || November 13, 2017 |||
13 Nov 2017 - After a few fraught days, the TPP was given new life. However, the struggles to get the deal across the line and other issues at the Apec summit raise questions about obstacles to multilateral trade and what that means for New Zealand, as Sam Sachdeva reports. The ideological battle for the future of Asia-Pacific trade played out on the big screen at Da Nang.
Of course, there was the stuttering, stumbling, but ultimately successful (or near enough) negotiations to reach agreement on the TPP (now known as the CPTPP - the Comprehensive and Progressive agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership).
While the New Zealand team was cautiously hailing the outcome, other events at the Apec summit may have given them cause for concern when it comes to multilateralism.
In his speech to the Apec CEO’s Summit, US President Donald Trump railled against what he saw as unfair trading arrangements, saying the US had “not been treated fairly” by the WTO and other countries had not reciprocated the favours extended by his country.
While the US was open to bilateral agreements with any Asia-Pacific country, he made no bones about its approach to multilateralism.
“What we will no longer do is enter into large agreements that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty, and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible.”
Worryingly, there are some concerns about whether Trump wants to kill the WTO: an article in the New York Times suggested American negotiators had warned their Mexican and Canadian counterparts that they could not expect their trade to “simply snap back to WTO rules” if the US leaves NAFTA.
10 Nov 2017 - On 1 December the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 will come into force. The aim is to reduce both the immediate harm to people and longer-term illness caused by hazardous substances in the workplace.
It’s no small matter. A hazardous substance is any product or chemical that has explosive, flammable, oxidising, toxic or corrosive properties – and they’re everywhere. Around one in three New Zealand workplaces use, manufacture, handle or store them. This includes factories, farmers and growers, as well as printers, collision repairers, hairdressers and retailers. They are in commonly used products such as fuels and LPG, solvents, cleaning solutions and agrichemicals.
“Used safely, hazardous substances can contribute to the nation’s economic growth and prosperity,” WorkSafe’s General Manager Operations and Specialist Services Brett Murray says, “but they also pose real risks to the people working with or around them.
“The harm from inhaling toxic vapours or having contact with some substances is often unseen. Workers may be unaware they are being exposed, and the effects of exposure may not be seen for many years.”
Hazardous substances are a major contributor to the estimated 600-900 deaths and 30,000 cases of serious ill health from work-related disease each year in New Zealand. This is in addition to the fatalities and immediate harm through accidents, such as fires and explosions, and unsafe use.
“It’s time this changed,” says Mr Murray. “The Regulations bring an expectation on all those working with hazardous substances to know what those substances are, the risks they pose and how to manage those risks.”
What’s changing? On 1 December the rules for managing hazardous substances in the workplace are moving from the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO) to the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA). Many of the existing requirements will continue. However there are some changes to improve the management of these substances at work.
“If you use or store these substances, you need to look at what has changed under the new Regulations to ensure you are meeting your obligations to protect workers,” Mr Murray says.
As well as looking at what is changing, Mr Murray says people need to remember there is already legislation in place they should be complying with.
“If you are following the current rules, you may only need to do a few things differently, but now is the ideal time to review your management of hazardous substances and ensure you are doing your duty to protect people from harm.”
Businesses will already be familiar with the HSWA approach to managing work-related health and safety risks. From 1 December this includes hazardous substances. It’s another step in helping to ensure our people get home healthy and safe.
WorkSafe’s website has information, guidance and FAQs. Its online Hazardous Substances Toolbox has tools to help. You can also subscribe to the Hazardous Substances Update.
The Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 are available on the New Zealand Legislation website.
10 Nov 2017 - An unnamed Asian member of the so-called TPP-11 has thrown a spanner in the works of 11th-hour negotiations on the future of the controversial Pacific Rim trade and investment deal.
Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker told New Zealand media early local time that there had been “an unusual turn of events” at the trade ministers’ meeting in Da Nang last night.
The ministers believed they had reached an agreement at around 10pm and there was “celebratory clapping”, only for an official of an unnamed nation to dispute that a settlement had been reached.
The issue arose in checking details of text changes agreed to the agreement.
Parker would not name the country but said it was not New Zealand and not Canada, which has been sending signals it is reluctant to be rushed into an agreement.
Vietnam, the host country for the APEC leaders’ summit where the TPP-11 talks are occurring, and Malaysia are both known to have been resistant to concluding an 11-member deal because both are making major concessions on labour and environmental standards and trade which were most valuable when the US was in the TPP tent.
US president Donald Trump withdrew his country from the TPP as his first act upon election, but the remaining 11, led by Japan, have sought to keep the deal alive.
Parker declined to discuss the outstanding sticking point, but said it was of importance to New Zealand, suggesting the issue may relate to market access for agricultural access, which is the primary value of the deal for New Zealand exporters but sensitive for most other TPP members.
There were suggestions overnight of irritation that news of the consensus was leaking ahead of a TPP-11 leaders’ meeting this afternoon local time. Leaders’ thunder had effectively been stolen by the early leaks.
Significantly, Parker gave the strongest indication yet New Zealand is ready to sign the TPP-11 deal, despite getting less than the new Labour-led government wanted in terms of watering down investor-state dispute settlement provisions.
10 Nov 2017 - Speech to 2017 Environmental Compliance Conference, Auckland by Wayne Fisher – General Manager of CS-VUE
Members of the organising committee, the Planning Institute, invited speakers, and delegates. Welcome to the 2017 Environmental Compliance Conference here in Auckland - two days of great insight and best practice at such a critical time for our sector. As we know, environmental compliance is witnessing significant levels of attention and change not seen since the introduction of the RMA in 1991. It is an honour for CS-VUE to once again be a part of this conference and this year as the major sponsor. From our position as providers of cloud-based compliance software across the public and private sectors, we have seen the enforcement of compliance increase markedly over the past decade. The regulatory landscape is becoming increasingly tough and increasingly costly. A quick scan of recent court cases across the country reveals fines from $17,000 for mining to $60,000 for effluent discharge and these are not isolated incidents. We have also witnessed a sizeable swing in the ways compliance is managed and how evidence is gathered, processed, and reported. The simple fact is, the compliance environment is now more demanding, more difficult to manage, has many more stakeholders, and comes with bigger fines. Better systems go a long way in assisting with these issues but as with all systems, if you don’t use them properly, or you don’t have systems in place that you can wholeheartedly rely on, you’ll quickly come unstuck. Our collective challenge over the coming years is to adjust to and manage the changing landscape. The good news is there are ways to effectively achieve this and even ways to work more closely with the regulators. For those of you as regulators, this will also be welcome news. CS-VUE has recently completed a significant piece of innovation with NZTA to manage the compliance across the $700m ‘Puhoi to Warkworth’ new motorway build. Our enhanced management system allows three-way communication between NZTA, the contractors, and the regulator, Auckland Council. What’s more, our regulatory software module can be easily applied across any regulator, council, or corporate and for any type of consenting right down to trade waste. Another driver we have witnessed in the market is more data residing outside of organisations, which has the added benefit of building in resilience and keeping critical information safe from the likes of earthquakes, floods or fires. Technology is now playing its part to manage this data and can deliver a great return on investment simply by performing many functions that were once done manually. The upside of this is that there is more control from an operational level – that is compliance on the ground being fed directly into compliance systems. This leads to better information for management teams and enhanced oversight at board level to better manage risk and governance. Data enables organisations to create viable and valuable audit trails directly from the field to final sign off. And of course, evidence can now be gathered directly from IoT devices. The major benefits here of course are in time and cost savings and increased compliance levels, but also in the reduction of ‘risk’ - all of which keep the likes of chairs, boards, mayors and councillors very happy! Our company, CS-VUE, works closely with large government departments and agencies, many city and district councils, and many corporate entities. Sectors we work in include oil and gas, quarrying, mining, and some of the country’s key ports. And for over a decade, our team has built a reputation based on experience, trust, tailoring solutions and delivering innovation, as well as great results for our clients. CS-VUE has a large booth outside. Please join us to find out just how rapidly compliance technology is shifting in your space, and how we can benefit your organisation - be it managing your own compliance or monitoring that of others. We’ll also give you a sneak peek into the future – with some of the exciting things on our development horizon. Over the next couple of days there are sessions on compliance enforcement, pollutant monitoring, and amongst many others, we’ll hear from NZ Petroleum & Minerals… And of course most importantly our guest speaker, Te Radar!
10 Nov 2017 - New Zealand will pass a significant milestone in its electric vehicle revolution this month. All of New Zealand’s electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids combined will avoid emitting 1 million kilograms of greenhouse gas in November. This estimate is from Flip the Fleet, a citizen science coalition of pure and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle owners that upload data from their vehicles to a communal database each month. The project estimates the amount of greenhouse gas that a conventional vehicle of the same size and power would have emitted over the same distance as each electric vehicle travelled.
"The data just received show that, on average, each low-emission vehicle avoided emitting the equivalent of 191 kg of carbon dioxide in October" said Prof. Henrik Moller, a co-founder of Flip the Fleet. "The Ministry of Transport’s estimates that there were 5,341 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in New Zealand by the end of October. The electric fleet is growing at approximately 9% per month. So we reckon that from now on we’ll be saving more than a million kg of greenhouse gases each month".
"That’s a million small victories for our grandchildren" said Prof. Moller, a sustainability scientist at the University of Otago.
"At the current rate of growth of New Zealand’s electric vehicle fleet, we should eliminate 10 million kg of emissions per month by the middle of 2020".
Flip the Fleet is a citizen science project that provides scientifically reliable information on the benefits and constraints of electric vehicles in New Zealand. The project is partly funded by MBIE’s Curious Minds portfolio, through Otago Museum.
Participation is free and all New Zealand’s electric vehicle owners can enrol at www.flipthefleet.org
10 Nov 2017 - Foreign Minister Winston Peters says Japan’s decision to continue whaling in the Southern Ocean is out of step with international opinion and defies scientific advice. Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research announced on 9 November that the Japanese whaling fleet had departed Japan for the Southern Ocean.
“While the world calls for greater protection of the ocean’s ecosystems, Japan’s whaling vessels will be heading to the Antarctic to hunt over 300 minke whales.
“New Zealand has long been opposed to whaling and has repeatedly urged Japan to end its whaling programmes,” Mr Peters says.
“Japan’s decision to conduct whaling in the Southern Ocean flies in the face of the clear recommendations of the International Whaling Commission, its Scientific Committee and its expert panels.”
“Put simply, Japan can achieve its stated research objectives without killing whales. This is an outdated practice and needs to stop,” Mr Peters says.
9 Nov 2017 - There are major changes afoot at New Zealand’s biggest union. FIRST Union, which represents 27,500 New Zealanders in the retail, finance, transport and logistics sectors, will bid farewell to its president, general secretary and retail and finance secretary in Auckland on Thursday. The union cites recent wins in taking on Cotton On over the soon-to-be-repealed “tea break law”, advocating on behalf of migrant workers and the victims of education trafficking, and for working with communities to help keep bank branches open.
“The outgoing leadership team and I are proud that, after nine years of a National government, our membership grew by 28 per cent,” said outgoing general secretary Robert Reid, who will take up the president’s position.
“We’ve negotiated an average wage increases of 3 per cent for our members, an increase well above the national average over this time.”
President Syd Keepa, retail and finance secretary Maxine Gay and national organiser Bill Bradford are moving on.
The new FIRST leadership team begins their four-year term immediately.
They include general secretary Dennis Maga, assistant general secretary Louisa Jones, retail and finance secretary Tali Williams and transport and logistics secretary Jared Abbott.
9 Nov 2017 - Statement by Reserve Bank Governor Grant Spencer: The Reserve Bank today left the Official Cash Rate (OCR) unchanged at 1.75 percent. Global economic growth continues to improve, although inflation and wage outcomes remain subdued. Commodity prices are relatively stable. Bond yields and credit spreads remain low and equity prices are near record levels. Monetary policy remains easy in the advanced economies but is gradually becoming less stimulatory. The exchange rate has eased since the August Statement and, if sustained, will increase tradables inflation and promote more balanced growth. GDP in the June quarter grew broadly in line with expectations, following relative weakness in the previous two quarters. Employment growth has been strong and GDP growth is projected to strengthen, with a weaker outlook for housing and construction offset by accommodative monetary policy, the continued high terms of trade, and increased fiscal stimulus. The Bank has incorporated preliminary estimates of the impact of new government policies in four areas: new government spending; the KiwiBuild programme; tighter visa requirements; and increases in the minimum wage. The impact of these policies remains very uncertain. House price inflation has moderated due to loan-to-value ratio restrictions, affordability constraints, reduced foreign demand, and a tightening in credit conditions. Low house price inflation is expected to continue, reinforced by new government policies on housing. Annual CPI inflation was 1.9 percent in September although underlying inflation remains subdued. Non-tradables inflation is moderate but expected to increase gradually as capacity pressures increase. Tradables inflation has increased due to the lower New Zealand dollar and higher oil prices, but is expected to soften in line with projected low global inflation. Overall, CPI inflation is projected to remain near the midpoint of the target range and longer-term inflation expectations are well anchored at 2 percent. Monetary policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period. Numerous uncertainties remain and policy may need to adjust accordingly. Read the Monetary Policy Statement
9 Nov 2017 - The Bonn climate change meeting will put the global spotlight on the concerns of vulnerable Pacific nations, Ministers say. Climate Change Minister James Shaw and Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio are attending the climate change meeting in Bonn, Germany, known as COP23. “Under Fiji’s leadership the voice of low-lying small islands, such as those in the Pacific, will be heard clearly at this COP,” Mr Shaw says.
“Aupito and I will be listening closely to Pacific Island leaders’ concerns and priorities.
“This is the first time a small island developing state has presided over the COP. This is important, because these countries are particularly vulnerable to climate impacts such as threats to food and water supplies, and energy security.”
Mr Shaw and Mr Sio will also be attending a meeting in Rome between Pacific Island Forum Leaders and His Holiness Pope Francis, en route to COP23.
Mr Sio says the Government and Pacific peoples need to speak together in responding to climate change.
“The Government recognises that Pacific Island nations are at particular risk of rising sea levels as a result of climate change and global warming. People from low-lying island nations face real threats of being displaced from their homes and may need to find new homes in future years.
“We will work with regional partners and organisations, and review migration policy with the Minister of Immigration to establish a better approach to deal with this very real issue for Pacific nations and peoples, and we will keep fighting climate change,” says Mr Sio.
“We want to see on-the-ground action to reduce emissions, and progress on the Paris Agreement work programme. The aim is to make good progress so the rules and procedures for the Paris Agreement can be completed by COP24,” Mr Shaw says.
“New Zealand’s goal is to work constructively with the rest of the world to accelerate the global transition to a low emissions future.”
 The 23rd Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP23, takes place from 6-17 November in Bonn, Germany.