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Innovating in a Time of Climate Crisis

Industry Insights

By Business Innovation Advisor , Callaghan Innovation Phil Anderson

26 April 2023

Innovating in a time of climate crisis

Climate change is real, and Hurricane Gabrielle is a foretaste of things to come. There is no quick fix for climate change, so New Zealanders need to adapt to changes in weather patterns that have already begun.   

Thankfully, a growing number of entrepreneurs and established businesses are seeking to address climate change through innovative mitigation and adaptation efforts. 

To meet the challenge of climate change, New Zealand and other countries will require a mix of local and offshore innovations to both fulfill emissions commitments and address the effects of the changing climate.

Clean technology, or cleantech, is a growing industry attracting government and private sector investment in New Zealand. One key area of focus is renewable energy. With over 80% of our electricity coming from renewable sources such as geothermal, hydro and wind power, New Zealand is already a world leader in renewable energy use.  The Government has set a goal to achieve 100% renewable electricity generation by 2030, and there are a number of companies, including startups, developing and integrating new technologies to help achieve this goal. 

New Zealand's cleantech industry is also focused on sustainable agriculture and food. This sector is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing these is a key Government priority. Cleantech innovators are working to develop and export sustainable agri-food technologies, including bio-fertilisers, new methane-reducing additives (including seaweed), advanced water management and alternative proteins.  

Another area of focus is transport.  New Zealand has a target of zero-emission vehicles making up 50% of our national fleet by 2035. To this end a number of researchers and companies are developing a variety of exciting non-fossil fuel technologies, including hydrogen, biofuels and electric vehicles, to help decarbonise the sector.

Turning waste streams into high-value products is another growth area for New Zealand cleantech innovators.   From e-waste to industrial processes, and plastic waste to biowaste, cleantech innovators are starting to shine. World-class carbon capture technologies are also gaining traction off the back of high-quality, local research.   

The Government has supported cleantech development through a range of initiatives, including research and development funding, tax incentives, as well as research and commercialisation support for startups through organisations such as Callaghan Innovation.

Overall, the rise of cleantech in New Zealand reflects a growing awareness of the need to address pressing environmental challenges and to build a sustainable future. With a supportive Government and a thriving startup ecosystem, New Zealand is well-positioned to be a leader in cleantech innovation.  This is good for business and good for the world. 

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