Last week I went to a conference. Not a property conference this time, but one about business and climate change.
I went to listen, not to be evangelised. To hear what’s happening outside of the business of property and the practice of law. I especially wanted to draw conclusions on how those changes might impact on property and legal practice. I wasn’t disappointed.
Things are moving fast in this area and have travelled some distance even in the last 12 months. Although property and law seem to be the slow runners. Many businesses and individuals are examining their global impact.
A mind shift
The strongest message from the two-day conference? That the reaction to the need for a zero-emissions economy is changing exponentially. This was illustrated not just by the suited attendees at the conference but by,
- 170,000 New Zealanders who marched through the streets in September.
- The Extinction Rebellion protesters who glued themselves to the window of the ANZ last week.
- A marked increase in green finance structures.
- The Zero Carbon Bill.
- The establishment of the Climate Commission.
At the conference, I heard
- About the New Zealand Sustainable Finance Forum. Importantly, it has been tasked with delivering a road map to the government by mid-2020. This will help New Zealand shift to a financial system that, amongst other things, supports sustainable environmental well-being.
- About the deliberate watering down of the language in Land Information Memorandums (LIMs). We need to read them carefully to properly understand the climate change impacts described.
- Stories behind the passionate views held. Death threats against a university professor who was relaying environmental stories, the pillorying of the Dunedin councillor who voted against the climate change emergency declaration.
- About the need to create trust between society’s different sectors. It was a common theme. It’s important that we are able to talk about climate risk and to debate the issues. It’s clear we need to do some work here.
- Jacinda Adern speak. She explained that she has seen big changes in the extent to which climate change has dominated her recent bilateral discussions with global leaders.
As with any change, some of us are too busy to participate, to contemplate even minor changes to our behaviour. We are waiting for regulation or business requirements to make actions an imperative. Thankfully, others are getting stuff done.