8 Jul 2011

Green growth is the new black

6:55 am on 8 July 2011

Companies have been warned the rising global appetite for energy efficient technologies and sustainable business practices is a two-edged sword.

The green growth phenomena has spawned two developments in the last week.

A Government-appointed advisory group is leading a discussion about green growth, while a lobby group called Pure Advantage has been formed by some business leaders to push green technology as a key plank to lift the country's wealth.

Pure Advantage chairman Rob Morrison says the global green economy is forecast to grow to an estimated $US6.8 trillion by 2015.

He says New Zealand leans very heavily on its clean, green image, but that's come under increased scrutiny internationally.

It's estimated even a 5% loss to the country's reputation could cost more than 20,000 jobs in agriculture and tourism, and result in more than $600 million per year in lost sales.

The head of the Government's advisory group on green growth, Phil O'Reilly of Business New Zealand, says he's cautious about jumping on the green bandwagon uncritically.

But, he says, firms need to respond to the global shift, despite the gains not necessarily translating into higher earnings --

A Government strategy on clean technology could be a delicate balancing act, as it also envisions the development of oil, gas, and mining industries to lift national income.

Mr O'Reilly says these aims are not mutually exclusive and New Zealand is well-placed to be a high-tech niche player.