Members' Papers

These documents have been written by ESR members and friends, but do not necessarily represent ESR's views.

Other documents, under the heading of "Position Papers" state ESR's viewpoints, with the intention of providing useful guidance on particular topics.

A New Perspective on the Importance

of Methane in New Zealand's Greenhouse Gas Emissions

By Hugh MacMurray

Webinar 16 June 2021

Recent analysis shows that in the relatively short timeframe available to curb our carbon emissions, it is even more important than we thought to get on top of our methane emissions. This is not an easy message to get across in New Zealand, which relies heavily on its agricultural economy.

A recording of the webinar is online at

Pumped Storage Planning, 1970s vs 2020

By Dr Alastair Barnett

Webinar 21 Oct 2020

Until the recent flurry of publicity about the Lake Onslow proposal, pumped hydropower

storage had not been seriously considered in New Zealand since the 1970s. At that time the

Tekapo canal was under construction to link the two main storage reservoirs (Lakes Tekapo

and Pukaki) in the Upper Waitaki power development, and an obvious option was to design

the canal to take pumped flow from Pukaki to Tekapo as well as gravity flow from Tekapo to

Pukaki. The canal design was duly analysed, constructed and tested to have the required

reverse flow capacity.

Instead, the newly developed Maui gas field was utilised and the Huntly thermal power station continues in use, and the importation of coal means that our thermal emissions have actually increased.

The disastrous outcomes of poor power planning have now been recognised, but the reaction seems to be one of panic, adopting the first scheme to come to mind while ignoring the alternatives, especially the final 10% of the Tekapo-Pukaki scheme.

A recording of the webinar is at .

Design for Additive Manufacturing

Prof Olaf Diegel of the University of Auckland, spoke to a webinar arranged by Engineers for Social Responsibility on 16 September 2020. Additibve manufacturing is popularly know as 3D printing and has been eagerly seized on by many computer users as an additional and interesting adjunct to their work. Prof Diegel introduced us to the topic with special attention to the advantages and disadvangages of this process. He noted that with any such project, careful attention must be paid to the preparation, including the structure, the material and the overall cost in time. There is a vital difference between a one-off and a big production run.

A recording of the talk is at .

What is wrong with the New Zealand Electricity Market?

Dr Geoff Bertram spoke to an online meeting of Engineers for Social Responsibility on 19 August 2020.

He reviewed the electricity reforms since 1986 and their effects, particularly on pricing, excess profits and anti-competitive practices. He noted the effects particularly on increasing poverty and inequality, specially child poverty and energy poverty.

He suggested steps that could be taken to deal with these problems, but noted that invested interests would make implementation of any of them, very difficult to achieve.

Here are the PDF versions of the PowerPoint slides which accompanied the talk.

Part A (pdf 945kB)

Part B. (pdf 542kB)

There is a video+audio recording at

Climate Change - Is New Zealand ready for it?

Peter Whitmore, ESR member, discusses the state of New Zealand's readiness for climate change, with particular reference to the continuing use of large quantities of coal at the Huntly power station. Alternatives are readily available for electricity generation. His Paper can be read here as a PDF file.

The Kiwi Bottle Drive

New Zealand’s grass roots campaign

for the re-introduction of bottle deposits

A Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) would recycle an extra 750 million beverage containers each year, create over 2,000 new jobs and reduce the impact of plastic on our oceans.

Yet the packaging industry continues to undermine the public’s desire and the political will for change. What can we do to ensure New Zealand catches up with other countries that are leading the way on reducing single-use packaging and the harm it causes?

The PowerPoint slides of this lecture are here as a PDF file.

Warren Snow is the Manager of the Entrust Foundation which sets up Zero Waste initiatives that help build local economies and community resilience.

This lecture was given on Wednesday 20 June 2018,at the Auckland University of Technology School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, 34 St Paul Street, Auckland.

High Expectations for the Climate Commission;

Will Government's action push us fast enough?

Immediately after the March 2018 annual general meeting of Engineers for Social Responsibility Inc, a seminar was presented, covering the issues behind the push for the establishment of a Climate Change Commission. Speakers included:

- Alan Mark: Introduction: NZ's Climate Change Programme

- Dugald MacTavish: Meeting the GHG Target: the Stabilisation Wedge

- Bob Lloyd: The Transport Sector

- Janet Stephenson: The Industrial Sector, the Energy Sector

- Hugh Campbell: The Land Use Sector

- Nathan Surendran: The Waste Sector

- Lisa Ellis: Ethical and Social Aspects.

An Adobe PDF file of the PowerPoint presentation can be viewed here.

Tamaki Campus

Save the buildings and save the climate

Save the climate and save the planet.

The built environment is the main cause of climate change

and offers the easiest opportunities for necessary change.

The only truly sustainable building is the one you do not build.

The next most sustainable building is the one you do not demolish.

There is no point in recycling plastic bags and milk bottles

if we are going to send our living buildings off to landfill.

More ... (PDF 851kB)

Auckland's Transport System for a Fast-changing World

Ross Rutherford gave his personal perspective on the planning and development of Auckland’s transport system to better equip Auckland to be a successful 21st century world city. He identified changes needed in current thinking, planning and funding to meet present and future challenges. These include making better use of the existing transport network, and better preparing Auckland for a future where fossil fuels prices reflect carbon emissions and sustainability is once again a prime objective. More (PDF 3.6 MB)

Restoration of Electric Power Supply to Faseu Village,

Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea

The Registered Trust “Friends of Faseu” seeks funding support for a rural electricity project in Papua New Guinea. The project involves the repair and restoration of a small hydro electric plant and the associated electrical distribution system supplying community facilities at Faseu, a village in the mountains of the Huon Peninsula in the Morobe Province. The system commenced operation in December 2005, but suffered major damage due to flood and landslip approximately two years later. More (PDF 265kB) ...


Energy vs. Climate - defining the problem

From Steve Goldthorpe (15 August 2013)

Steve Goldthorpe, Convener of The Sustainable Energy Forum Inc, spoke to the Auckland Branch of Engineers for Sustainability on 15 August. He pays particular attention to methane emissions, particularly those arising from fracking.

Here is the PDF file of his PowerPoint presentation. Steve has included his Presenter notes which can be viewed by clicking on the pop-up icon where it appears in the top left corner of a slide, eg on Slide 1.

Goldthorpe ESR 130815.pdf 1.27 MB


Fronting up to our deteriorating world From Dugald MacTavish (14 November 2011)

A little group of us down in Otago were worried that we always seem to be fighting rear guard actions. We wanted to propose something a bit more proactive and searching. The result is this attached political Appeal for people to use at candidates’ meetings etc pre-election. It is being developed further with the intention of using it as the basis for a petition to parliament.

I also thought some ESR members might be interested. If any one decides to use it then we would be pleased to know how it goes. More …

Contact Dugald MacTavish


Taming the Debt Monster by John Peet (12 November 2011)

Financial markets around the world are trying to adjust to the momentous stresses evident in the US and Europe. In NZ, economic forecasts don’t look particularly good. Debt and interest payments will increase as a result of more borrowing, but the borrowing will allow economic growth and that is what we all want, isn’t it?

Will these policies work? There are two sides to a response to that question. Side A says economic growth is undermining the very ecological systems that not only support life on the planet but also are the foundation of the economy, and for that reason it is not sustainable. Side B says

failure to grow the economy risks social and political instability. Both are probably correct.

This creates a dilemma. More...