Another green world (please)

Geoff Ross, founder of vodka maker 42 Below, explains the thinking behind the Pure Advantage campaign, launched last week to persuade New Zealand that “green growth” is the best way (some might say the only credible way) for the NZ economy to develop [Herald, Stuff]. Pure Advantage is the brainchild of a group of NZ business leaders, convinced that NZ’s existing reputation as (relatively) clean and green place can be leveraged to give the country an advantage as the world moves to embrace “green growth” — something already worth, they say, $6 trillion a year worldwide.

Pure Advantage grew out of efforts by business leaders to persuade the government to take green growth seriously, and a measure of their success is that this week the Ministry of Economic Development released the first discussion paper (pdf) from the Green Growth Advisory Group created earlier this year. The group’s terms of reference are to help exporters “make the most of a “clean, green” New Zealand brand”, encourage “smarter use of technology and innovation”, and help businesses move to a “lower-carbon economy”. It’s a pity there’s not much sign of the latter in other government policy initiatives1

Meanwhile, to underline why all this fuss about green development is important, the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs released a major report, The World Economic and Social Survey 2011: The Great Green Technological Transformation (full pdf), which finds that the global economy will require:

…a technological overhaul […] on the scale of the first industrial revolution. Over the next 40 years, $1.9 trillion per year will be needed for incremental investments in green technologies. At least one-half, or $1.1 trillion per year, of the required investments will need to be made in developing countries to meet their rapidly increasing food and energy demands through the application of green technologies.

If that’s not a market opportunity, I don’t know what is. The report has flown under the radar for most of the world’s media, and I’ve only had time to skim the summary, but it looks like a useful statement of where we are, and where we need to go. More later, perhaps, if I can find the time to do it justice2.

[Brian Eno, best known as the theme to British TV doco series Arena.]

  1. And no National Party members attended the Pure Advantage launch, despite invites. []
  2. I have a book to finish, truffles to “grub” (as some might say), vineyard, fruit trees and roses to prune, and only a few weeks to do it all. []

16 thoughts on “Another green world (please)”

  1. Good idea.
    One thing that might cancel opposition to our exports would be if we built a fleet of wooden sail / biofuel cargo vessels for our export stuff. Our unemployed chippies could make them, our endless pine trees would be the wood, and the crew would be die-hard greenies intent on saving the planet.
    We could sell it as a cause-celebre, and get people actually paying to crew the ships, al la Tom Sawyer.
    Apparently a vineyard in France does it, and sells out their wine in one day, via supermarket in UK. If the idea catches on we could have the wooden cargo ship market cornered.
    Another thing is the fact that speed is no longer an issue with ships: it’s too expensive to go fast now, so they just toodle along at a snail’s pace.
    The only issue I can see is insurance, maybe.

      1. Orlov – he of The New Age of Sail – also agrees that wood is not the best – he suggests ferro-cement hulls which seems a good plan.

        Certainly the new mode of Super-slow Steaming which is being adopted by the likes of Marsek makes sail a more likely option. The old clipper ships could average up to 15 knots over a day compared with the 20 knots of super-slow steaming, so the travel time difference for non-time-critical cargoes is not bad, weather permitting.

        My grandfather trained before the mast on square riggers, and I have a photo somewhere he took from the bridge looking forward over the ship as she pushed around the Horn. Only the masts and stays were visible above the water!

        We should certainly start training schools for sailing ships, and build a few ferro-cement hulled ones to get the knowledge base up and running. Junked rigged, of course; the square rig of the clippers was a result of a local-minimum in the sailing skill field suffered by the European ship builders. The junk rig requires less manpower and is much simpler and safer to handle.

        Sadly sailors and ships will have to cope with wind and sea conditions unlike those ever possible in the past due to the new higher-energy climate system created by warming.

    1. I look forward to the first New Zealand-built wine clipper arriving in the Port of London – clean, green, carbon-neutral and a fantastic bit of national PR.

      GR, Hot Topic, 2007


      1. I can’t tell if the first comment is satire or not, and if the replies are joking along or assuming it’s serious. Are these comments serious?

        1. Well, it’s not satire really. There is a French vineyard selling wine cargoed by a sailing ship to UK. And we do have a lot of chippies on the dole, and we could build a fleet of cheap green ships to carry our stuff to Europe, which the vegans over there would love to buy.
          And the consumers there are resisting our stuff becuase they’ve been told it destroys the planet due to the oil we burned getting it to Europe. The ships wouldn’t cost anything to run, as opposed to the oil buring steel ones.So the idea has merit.

          It’s crazy maybe, but look at what Tim Shadbolt did for invercargill….

          1. OK, lets round up the dole bludgers and make them operate sailing ships ferrying agriculture products to England. I can’t imagine there would be any indirect costs in allowing untrained people to operate vessels carrying billions of dollars in cargo every year. Are we aloud to use refrigeration or do we need to go back to exporting tallow?

            1. Sail-assisted shipping is no joke: systems are already in use, and shipping companies are seriously considering new designs of sail-powered cargo ships. But taking this sort of stuff seriously is not on the agenda, eh R2?

            2. The use of the great unwashed to man such vessels was found to be expedient in the past, leading inevitably to the mariner’s over-indulgence in Rum Sodomy and Lash.

              While it would be nice to think future sailing ships will avoid having openings for anchor hawsers connecting the crew accommodation to the adjacent ocean, and overloading and undermanning will never happen, in the end the post-oil transport system will be driven by exactly the same drivers of greed, economics and human misery as in the pre-oil era.

              Its a transport system that conquered the Earth for Empire last time around, it will again, for all its imperfections.

            3. Gareth, I agree there are sensible proposals for sail assisted shipping. I don’t think that making clippers out of oak and forcing dole bludgers to man them is one of these. Saying that, I do have an interest in serious proposals and found your article interesting – thanks.

  2. Well, ships are a commodity nowadays, and they would probably pay for themselves after a couple of trips anyway. Think of all those trained people off the dole, making things that bring an export advantage to NZ.

    The greenpeace types would drool over the environmental aspect too, and would do free adverts for our image.

  3. Let us all get behind the Pureadvantage campaign by signing up to create a sizeable lobby group. Psychologically it is the best approach for getting people and government to engage with actions to mitigate climate change. While the Kyoto Protocol process is perhaps still useful in keeping Climate on the agenda it is never going to get us where we need to go. This is because it conflates climate change action with global social justice, maintaining one cannot happen without the other. However, global social justice has already been on the agenda for years in terms of, world poverty, fair trade, individual human rights, gender equality, antiracism etc, but I do not expect world peace, or huge improvements in any of these areas any time soon.
    The Pureadvantage agenda is based on the psychological drivers of self-interest and shared common interest within our own social group. It focuses on leadership and opportunity rather than on fear, loss and self-sacrifice. While in the longer term the social justice issues will not go away, but rather will become more problematic, we cannot delay climate action any longer.

  4. Totally agree. I also think that NZ indeed has the scale and the skill set to be an important player in the green tech revolution to come. Nations that look forward and expediently develop the technology that we will need are the ones to prosper. Those dragging their feet will pay the price. Being a sailor I look forward to a revival of large ship sailing. Many existing hulls of large steel ships could possibly converted too.

  5. But the whole point is that they are made of wood from renewable forests. Ferro concrete involves smelting steel, very carbon positive, and cement involves pilaging the earth etc etc. The wood means our chippies can get off the dole and use their existing skills.

  6. We should build a fleet of nuclear powered catamarans (we have the aluminium smelter) and if they travelled at sixty knots they could be in Europe in ten days. Does that make us sound a bit remote?

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