Tuesday, March 5, 2024

A business case for embracing GHG change

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Innovators see opportunities, not just threats, in tackling carbon load.
Emma Blom, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, CH4 Aotearoa general Manager Nigel Little and Tessa Strang caught up at the 2035 Oceania Summit in Auckland.
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By Tessa Strang, Lincoln University student and AgriHQ cadet

After two very insightful days at the 2035 Oceania Summit I can safely say there are plenty of inspiring individuals ready to embrace the change that is required in order to move forward as a nation and accelerate action towards tackling New Zealand’s challenge of reducing emissions. 

Regulation and policy framework are shaping the way we operate our farming systems, and the summit addressed solutions to resolve this pressure, and move alongside the change. 

Across both days at the summit, the well-recognised issue of global food waste was touched upon by most of the speakers. We all know food waste is an issue – on a global scale we waste 33% of the food we produce – but how well do we respond to this issue as an individual consumer? 

One company that is tackling this issue through proactive action is Ecogas, which is working to convert food waste into an energy source and animal feed using an anaerobic digester. Andrew Fisher, business development manager at Ecogas, said we have far too many landfills in New Zealand rather than solution-based facilities such as his Ecogas plant in Reporoa. Intiatives such as this embrace change rather than fighting against it.

“There is no silver bullet,” Richard Heath, executive director of the Australian Farm Institute, told the conference. So how do we get there? There are many small start-up businesses working towards growing their idea into a recognizable initiative. However, lack of funds is restricting their growth and ability to scale up. Investors are needed to accelerate this opportunity.

A panel of venture capitalists on the second day of the summit included experienced investors Matthew Pryor, co-founder of Tenacious Ventures – Australia’s first dedicated agrifood tech VC firm –  and MJ Alvarez, investment manager at WNT Ventures. Both had a central message for smaller scale companies looking to create an impact: in order to attract investors, companies must be able to prove their foundational knowledge of the market they are operating in, as well as their capability to attract networks and retain those networks to make themselves known in the industry. 

Carbon farming is a topical conversation that is relatively controversial. Some see it as an opportunity, and some see it as a threat. Sarah Nolet, co-founder of Tenacious Ventures, built on the idea that carbon farming is an opportunity for farmers looking to seek a return from offsetting their emissions. She said there is room for improvement in terms of educating farmers on how to implement the opportunity, as at the end of the day they are the beneficiaries of the process.

Is there value in net carbon? That was a question posed by a number of speakers at the conference, and it sparked many conversations around the voice of the end consumer. There is a tremendous amount of effort going towards reducing on-farm emissions for the greater good of the environment – but will there be any monetary gain for farmers as a reward for their hard work?

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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