12 Apr 2024

Tech industry plans for lower-emissions future

6:36 am on 12 April 2024
14596413 - smoking industrial chimneys against a blue sky

The report highlights multiple areas where tech could be used to enable New Zealand's climate strategy. Photo: 123RF

NZ Tech has come up with a plan to help businesses use technology to cut carbon emissions, and potentially save the economy billions of dollars in the process.

A report developed by NZ Tech over the past two years sets out a framework to help all sectors of the economy to use digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) to reduce carbon emissions.

Technology for Emissions Reduction: A framework for Aotearoa's Climate Technology Roadmap says technology alone will not be enough to meet the 2030 target set out in the Paris Agreement.

"New Zealand may find it needs to pay billions of dollars before 2030 to meet our international commitments if we do not reduce emissions faster," NZ Tech chief executive Graeme Muller said.

"To realise the benefits of technology, we must also ensure the appropriate enablers are in place, including skills, capital, uptake and industry partnership."

He said the biggest carbon-emitting industries already had plans in place to manage reductions, such as the energy and construction sectors, but others could also benefit from the use of digital technologies.

"The role of technology in sustainability is vast and cannot be overstated. It ranges from basic connectivity, through to digital technologies including AI and IoT, extending to climate tech and biotechnology," Muller said.

"As an example, digital technologies like data analytics and AI systems can enable better energy management, while IoT can help us monitor activities in our natural and built environments, enabling us to make the right interventions at the right time.

Muller said the report highlights multiple areas where tech should be used to enable New Zealand's climate strategy.

"This is also a significant economic growth opportunity for New Zealand, with climate tech now valued at $20 billion globally and projected to reach $100 billion by 2030, and a climate tech roadmap will provide the signal for increased private sector investment."

He said climate tech included a diverse range of technologies from electric vehicles to renewable energy storage systems to low-carbon cement, while biotech solutions had wide applications in agriculture and waste management.

The report was published with support from the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry for the Environment, the Climate Change Chief Executives Board and Spark New Zealand.

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