Options in a Challenging Climate

By Simon Gascoigne

In the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the challenge of global warming is readily apparent – a target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees will require concerted action by everyone.  The data in the report indicates we need to do more to stay below the threshold.

It highlighted the clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems by limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC, and stated this could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.

One significant point was that a rapid increase in both the pace and scale of transition to a low carbon economy needs to occur.

Whilst our society has experienced various rapid disruptive technological changes, there is no precedent for the sheer scale of structural transition that will be necessary to achieve the desired effect, particularly in the next 10 to 20 years.

So – what’s the number one thing you can you do?

The number one thing – given the pace and scale required – is to get active together.  

Ring your local MP. Write. Email.  Post a card, petition, stick research to doors, stuff letters in box slots and slide them under MP’s doors!

If you sign an online petition, don’t use a template response – the data just gets collectivised with less weight for your response.  Be unique to be heard.

What else can you do? 

Use an online CO2 calculator to work out what your emissions are. A New Zealand one is Eviro-Mark : www.enviro-mark.com/calculators

The most high impact things to reduce emissions (research from Lund University1):

Avoid air travel where possible and always use carbon credits. A return flight from Auckland to Los Angeles produces about 4.4 tonnes of CO2.2

Bike, bus or walk.  An average car emits around 2 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Eating a plant based diet will save around 0.8 tonnes of CO2 per year. Even eating less red meat is a great way to start.

Food waste is an area where you can achieve good improvements.  1kg of food waste generates about 1.9 kg of CO2-e in a landfill. 

If you are thinking about family size – consider smaller (its approx. 58 tonnes CO2 per person/year) 

Of course energy efficient appliances, insulation and choosing environmentally friendly electricity sources are also important. 

When you buy something you are voting for that product, the same goes for investments.

Learn to recognise real quality – whilst often more expensive,  it is cheaper in the long run and will mean more to you as they last longer through the course of your life.

Living a more minimalist life has benefits in unexpected ways. Find beauty in simplicity and more meaning in less. 

To offset emissions, you might like to consider these carbon credit providers:

Enviro-mark: www.enviro-mark.com/home

Ekos: www.ekos.org.nz/services.html

Native Forest Restoration Trust: https://www.nfrt.org.nz/carbon...

The Carbon Shop: www.thecarbonshop.co.nz  (email: theboss@thecarbonshop.co.nz)

NZ Climate and Health Council: http://www.orataiao.org.nz/off...


1: Seth Wynes and Kimberly A Nicholas 2017: The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions. Environ. Res. Lett. 12 074024 (Available free online: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541/meta)

2: Enviro-Mark Travel calulator:  https://calculators.enviro-mar...


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