News Releases

Shape NZ survey - an open letter to editors

13 March 2008

I write to express my amazement about how uncritically the media is accepting the results of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development’s surveys that come out of their “Shape NZ” market research.

The latest survey tells us that 54% of respondents think NZ should become a global leader on climate change and that 58% agree or strongly agree to a question about emissions trading (a highly simplistic question about emissions trading that was misleading in itself).

The questions I think that need to be asked is how are the survey’s conducted? The article quotes the results as being from 746 business decision makers; but who are these people? The surveys are able to be filled in by any-one who goes onto the NZBCSD website. As such they are self selecting which by definition would make them biased from the start. For all we know every-one filling in the survey is employed by the government working on emissions trading policy or is setting up in business to trade carbon units?

The reason I ask these questions, is that as some-one who has read a great many submissions on the Emissions Trading Bill from a range of different industries, these survey results do not reflect business opinion – from any sector that I have come across.

I talk regularly with business leaders and CEO’s from a wide range of industry associations and without exception they are growing increasingly concerned at the increased energy costs they can foresee if the Emissions Trading Bill is passed without significant amendment.

Using survey’s to get an answer you want is one of the oldest PR tricks in the book. To avoid this accusation, opinion type surveys should ideally be conducted by independent market researchers who are members of the market research industry association which has a code of conduct.

As someone commented to me – if you asked people if they were prepared to have a cold shower every day to reduce emissions – the answer would make a good Tui Bill Board – Yeah Right.


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