Our boss calls for 'relentless focus’ on climate change

As a proud signatory of the Climate Leaders Coalition, we are pleased with the group’s new Statement of Ambition that ups the ante for business action on climate change.

Our chief executive Dr Jon Lamonte says we have been a signatory to the coalition since 2019 and takes the need for urgent climate change action seriously.
“The water and wastewater industry is responsible for a decent chunk of the world’s carbon emissions – from both the infrastructure we build and our daily operations.
“At Watercare, we’re looking at ways to reduce both built carbon and our operational emissions, but with our population growing every day, it won’t be easy. This is something we need to face head-on and with relentless focus.”
Our head of sustainability Chris Thurston says being a signatory shows a much greater commitment to take action on climate change than simply complying with regulations.
“This is voluntarily committing to providing leadership on climate change strategy and solutions to our industry. As a signatory we’re obliged to embed plans for adapting to and mitigating against climate change throughout our business, and to take our customers, suppliers and stakeholders on the journey with us. We also need to measure, verify and report our emissions.
“One of the ways we’re working to effectively measure our more complex emissions sources is by trialling a prototype portable greenhouse gas monitor for wastewater treatment plants.

“The experiment is the first of its kind in New Zealand. The monitor is being used to trap and measure nitrous oxide (N20) at our Rosedale Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“Unlike carbon dioxide, less is known about N2O and how to track it – especially as amounts can vary day to day and season to season.

“There hasn't been the focus on it or technical capability until recently but being able to measure the gas is the first step in working out how to reduce it.

“We’re in contact with our peer organisations around the world for this experiment and look forward to being able to share the results nationally and globally.”

The Rosedale Wastewater Treatment Plant is also the site of New Zealand’s first floating solar array, which covers one hectare and consists of more than 2700 solar panels and 4000 floating pontoons.

It floats on the treated wastewater pond next to the northern motorway and generates enough electricity to power a quarter of the total energy needed at the treatment plant.
Thurston says plans are underway for another New Zealand-first in the form of electric trucks to be used on our Central Interceptor project.
“We have three of the first road-worthy construction electric trucks on the way to New Zealand from China, which we expect to arrive later this year. Not only will these trucks help us to reduce our emissions, but people will be able to see how they operate in a major project context and the benefits they provide, which can be shared across the construction industry.”
As part of the coalition, we are actively:
  • Measuring its greenhouse gas footprint, having the data independently verified by a third party and making the information publicly available;
  • Adopting targets grounded in science that will deliver substantial emissions reductions so it contributes to New Zealand being carbon neutral by 2050. These targets will be considered in current planning cycles;
  • Assessing its climate change risks and publicly disclosing them;
  • Proactively supporting its people to reduce their emissions, and
  • Proactively supporting its suppliers to reduce their emissions.
Signatories must also plan for a “just transition” with climate strategy that’s fair and inclusive, and avoids leaving people behind.