Meeting our carbon emissions targets


Reducing emissions is not a nice to have, it’s a must do. But what will it take to transition?

Shortly we will be looking at another alternative power source at one of our sites as the next step in our multi-pronged approach to reducing carbon emissions across all our operations.

No one source of energy is likely to provide a silver bullet as we work hard to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and to be net zero by 2050. So far, we’ve run trials at different sites co-firing with biomass, powering boilers with woodchips and different electrification methods. 

In searching for the right mix to help meet our targets, we are juggling different options against a similar backdrop to other companies here and abroad – the imperative of climate change and the speed and cost of creating the transformation we need and want.

Rob Spurway, Fonterra Chief Operating Officer, Global Operations

On May 9th and 10th, representatives of business, government, iwi and the wider community come together in New Plymouth for the ‘Just Transition Summit.’ The objective is to look at the challenge of moving to a low emissions economy from a national perspective. 

Representing Fonterra, I’m looking forward to contributing through exchanging ideas, sharing views and learning from others. As a member of the Climate Leaders Coalition I have found the swapping of ideas, collaborative approach and productive workstreams helpful. If the summit can jump start something similar on a wider scale the country can benefit. 

On a global level, two aspects about the need to change have come into focus recently. The economics of transitioning and the role of policy makers in that, and whether to drive momentum for change by using fear or by inspiring.

On the home front, the ‘Just Transition Summit’ is looking at aspects of the first point and the Government is expected to be advised by the (Interim) Climate Change Committee and others as it shapes the country’s policies and regulations.

The latter point, whether to drive momentum for change by fear or inspiration, is perhaps more targeted at moving individuals and it appears internationally that fear has the upper hand currently.

Last October the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its ‘Doomsday’ report detailing the impact on the planet’s climate at 1.5C and 2C of warming. A February opinion piece in the New York Times started like this ‘The age of climate panic is here.’

The January address to the World Economic Forum by 16yo Greta Thunberg – ‘I want you to feel the fear I feel every day’ – has spurred youth action across the world, including here.

Reducing emissions is not a nice to have for business, it’s a must do. The speed at which that change is achieved can be a friction point for many individuals but they should know committed businesses are playing their part as fast as they can. Sharing, learning and collaboration at all levels of our business has been important for us. We worked with the government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority when co-firing our Brightwater site near Nelson. Last year our Pahiatua team developed a water recycling initiative and today more than 150 of our milk tankers are using biofuel developed by Z Energy.

Whether an individual or a business, the scale of the challenge is huge and multi-faceted, and we all have a role to play.

Rob Spurway, Fonterra Chief Operating Officer, Global Operations