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New Zealand’s Commitment to Sustainability with Tech

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New Zealanders take pride in their “clean, green” country and its leadership in global climate initiatives, while local businesses are actively investing in and prioritising sustainability, influenced by the government’s eco-friendly policies, particularly in the transport and energy sectors.

The country is committed to advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development domestically and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) internationally. It is taking a leading role in the global effort to combat climate change by effectively utilising trade mechanisms including bilateral free trade agreements and multilateral pacts, aligning international partners around climate-friendly policies.

New Zealand’s commitment to environmental sustainability is reinforced by legislative measures aimed at reducing its climate impact, with a target of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (excluding biogenic methane) by 2050, building upon the country’s advantageous position with over 80% of electricity sourced from renewables.

However, to reach these targets, substantial investments in technology, expanded renewable energy generation, enhanced grid infrastructure, storage solutions, and energy-efficient building upgrades are essential, particularly in decarbonizing sectors such as transportation and industry.

Despite its small size, New Zealand wields significant influence at the global intersection of climate and trade due to the nation’s strong emphasis on climate issues, with 81% of its population expressing concern about climate change.

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An inspiring example of individual innovation comes from 14-year-old Cameron Moore from Rotorua, who developed an AI-powered pest trap to address the rising wallaby population threatening New Zealand’s native forests and biodiversity in a humane and efficient manner.

His moment of inspiration occurred while biking in the forest, observing wallabies feasting on young shoots, prompting him to research further and discover how this behaviour affected the growth of these shoots, ultimately impacting the forest’s biodiversity.

Cameron’s invention not only protects the forests but also the children and wildlife in the area where he enjoys mountain biking, demonstrating the impactful role individuals can play in conservation efforts.

Educational institutions, such as the University of Waikato, are actively utilising artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to address a wide range of challenges, including climate change, water quality enhancement, and the effective management of invasive pests, thereby making significant contributions to sustainability efforts.

“AI has the potential to change life as we know it,” says Professor Albert Bifet, Director of Te Ipu o te Mahara AI Institute at the University. “For young people that want to make a difference in the world and build the next big thing, AI is definitely the place to be.”

New Zealand’s comprehensive approach to sustainability incorporates its indigenous Māori population, emphasising environmentally responsible policies, while the “Trade for All” agenda, initiated in 2018, seeks to boost public involvement, promote sustainable economic growth, advance regional integration in the Asia-Pacific, and champion a rules-based international trade system.

New Zealand’s Clean Car Discount scheme is significantly accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), contributing to climate goals, with over 156,000 rebates paid to EV and hybrid customers and more than half of all new vehicles and used imports in New Zealand now electrified.

The average emissions from newly registered vehicles have dropped by nearly 33% since July 2021, and an extension of the scheme in April 2022 led to a significant decline in emissions, with 62% of EV owners accelerating their purchases due to the discount, while the government co-funds over 100 EV chargers to expand public charging infrastructure.

AgResearch, a Crown Research Institute in New Zealand, has developed Portable Accumulation Chambers to measure methane emissions from cattle on-site, aiding efforts to reduce the climate impact of livestock through selective breeding for lower-emitting animals, with the technology offering insight into the climate change impact of herds and individual animals, and providing the capability to evaluate emissions for both cattle and sheep, promoting sustainability in farming practices not just in New Zealand but internationally.


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