Climate change

A boy in a paddock of lush grass with cows in the background

© Miraka Ltd

The Bay of Plenty Region seeks to understand and embrace the full spectrum of climate change impacts on employment and has a focus on emerging circular economy initiatives to drive future success.

The Bay economy is driven by several sectors that will be affected by carbon reduction activity over time. Our workforce needs to be prepared for these changes including retrenchment to expansion and mitigation. This will support smoother workforce transitions to green jobs and identification of innovative future opportunities. A holistic approach is needed with an education pipeline that closes gaps in climate change knowledge for rangatahi, strategic direction from local and central government, and campaigns to build awareness of climate change implications within the community.

Our approach

The Group engaged regional climate change experts as well as consulting local[38], national[39], and global plans[40] and research to consider the impact of climate change on the workforce. This helped them form the view that the environment gifts people with the resources needed to be able to work and as the environment changes, so work changes. In the Bay of Plenty there are many sectors that rely on the environment, and these sectors will need to contend with rising temperatures, flooding, droughts, and other extreme weather events over time.[41] Accounting for these changes is vitally important.

The Group looked at who would be impacted by climate change. Those who are working in the agriculture industry in the Bay of Plenty will be most impacted due to climate change based on greenhouse gas emissions, followed by private households, electricity, gas, water and manufacturing industry. The workforce for more emissions intensive industries is clearly male dominated, with Māori accounting for a larger proportion of the high emissions intensive industry (Internal MBIE RSLG team analysis based on climate change impacts on each industry due to emissions and corresponding estimated workforce impacts, calculated from 2019 employment and occupation composition of the industry). The region also has a relatively high share of workers with no or lower qualifications in high emission industries. From the industry emissions data those workers impacted most due to climate change adaptation would be mainly Māori males working in sheep and beef farming, and road, rail, transport and heavy manufacturing having no or low level (level 1-3) qualifications.[42]

Finally, the Group noted that the link between climate change and workforce planning in the Bay is not strong with little mention of green jobs[43] or workforce impacts.[44] The Group identified a gap where it can work with stakeholders in the region to better connect the two together.

Key insights

Action to limit global warming to 2°C will create jobs but will also inevitably lead to losses in carbon intensive industries as they scale down. New jobs will be created as the energy mix changes, i.e., projected use of EV, geothermal energy, green hydrogen and transitioning to agricultural sustainability and circular economy will result in better jobs in recycling, remanufacture and repair of goods. Skills development will facilitate the transition to a green economy as skill mismatching is a barrier to greening of the economy. Indicators of this are skills shortages, high youth unemployment and low productivity in firms.

There are legal frameworks provided to incentivise moving towards a greener economy while also ensuring decent work. The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019 requires New Zealand to prepare for, and adapt to, the effects of climate change through a range of steps.[45]

Stakeholders told the Group they believed there is a major gap in climate change and adaptation knowledge, as well as skills at a governance and management level in organisations across the Bay.

Greenhouse gas emissions in the Bay of Plenty Region by source industry, 2019 ( kilotonnes of CO2 equivalent)
A bar graph showing greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 for the Bay of Plenty region by industry. It shows that the highest overall contributor to emissions for the region comes from the Agriculture industry with 1503.51 kilotonnes for the 2019 year and the lowest overall contributor was the Mining industry with 9.8 kilotonnes.

They were clear that until this is addressed, employers will be ill-equipped to adapt their workforces appropriately. Stakeholders also talked of the need for specialist skills in integrated whenua planning, research and operational roles in geothermal, non-conventional approaches in dairy and Māori collective structures.

The Group’s view is that all sectors of the BOP economy will be impacted by climate change over the coming years, but that they will see gaps emerging first in the following regional sectors:

  • Transport
  • Energy
  • Construction and Infrastructure
  • Agriculture / Farming
  • Horticulture
  • Forestry / Wood Processing
  • Tourism

Stakeholders advised that even though there is an urgent need to respond to climate change, associated labour market gaps are yet to fully emerge. This provides the region with a brief planning window to verify these anticipated gaps, and then to equip people with the necessary training to provide strategic direction at governance and management levels across all sectors.

There is an urgent need to identify examples of best practice in climate adaptation to maximise their impact and highlight opportunities to others. To begin this journey, the Group engaged with innovative approaches being taken by iwi in particular, acknowledging once again that Māori have the solutions for their communities. For instance, the Group engaged in a series of climate change hui run by Ngāti Whakaue ki Maketū iwi at the Whakaue Marae over March and April 2022 to discuss the impacts for the Maketū community, and ways to support Māori communities in the future. This activity could be replicated throughout the region.

Case study: Miraka

Māori dairy processing company Miraka started production in 2011 and was established by seven Māori trusts, Vietnamese dairy business Vinamilk and Global Dairy Network (GDN).

They shared a mutual desire to create a world-class, environmentally focussed, and sustainable dairy business at Mokai, near Taupō. The founders saw the greenhouse gas challenges before most others in the world and embraced them to create a sustainable competitive advantage.

The vision of Miraka ‘nurturing our world’ is underpinned by five core values – kaitiakitanga, excellence, integrity, tikanga and innovation. These set the strategic direction for all aspects of the company’s operations.

Chairman Kingi Smiler says Miraka is not just a dairy processor but is a company with a higher purpose. “The modus operandi of Miraka has core Te Ao Māori principles at the heart of its operations, particularly that of kaitiakitanga.”

“As stewards, we have a responsibility to look after the natural environment and resources for current and future generations. We use renewable ‘green’ energy from the Mokai geothermal power station which is owned by Tuaropaki Trust, one of our main shareholders.

”Our Mokai factory has one of the lowest carbon emission footprints in the world. In New Zealand, our carbon footprint is 94% which is less than for similar driers in the country.”

As for on-farm practices, Te Ara Miraka is the company’s farming excellence programme which sets a benchmark and creates a culture of excellence for farmers who supply Miraka with their milk.

Te Ara Miraka includes a mix of mandatory and best practice standards – such as riparian planting to help protect waterways and the effective management of effluent to minimise nitrogen leaching into the whenua (land).

To find out more about Miraka go to link)

Climate change action statements

  • Educate and train industry and student leaders in climate change impacts and identify opportunities where immediate actions can be taken to reduce climate impacts, accelerate current circular economy initiatives and begin to adapt the BOP workforce. (through the following sub-actions):
  • Support climate change/ adaptation and workforce impacts training.
  • Facilitate climate adaptation and workforce resilience discussions between iwi, community, and industry to identify actions they can take now.
  • Undertake industry and region-specific scans to identify medium to long term circular economy opportunities in BOP.