Organisations and scientists working to mitigate climate change agree that we must cut emissions quickly. Like all developed nations, New Zealand needs to take responsibility for our emissions. We may be a small country and thus make a relatively small contribution to the global problem, but our carbon footprint per person is huge. Per head of population we are the fifth highest emitters in the developed world. In 2009 we produced 20% more emissions than in 1990, while the UK reduced theirs by about 19% (100% Possible: A Clean Green Future For New Zealand, WWF New Zealand). About half of our CO2 emissions come from farming and the other half from energy – mostly power plants and transport.
#1 Use your influence. We need strong leadership from the top to get the necessary scale of change. Encourage government to put the right policies in place, set meaningful emission reduction targets and stick to them.
- Talk to your family and friends – in person and online.
- Write to your local paper, your MP, the Prime Minister.
- Sign petitions. Check out Generation zero’s ‘ Zero Carbon Act’
- Support activist organisations.
#2 Cut fossil fuels. We must drastically reduce the use of all other types of fossil fuels like oil, tar sands and natural gas as soon as possible. Clean energy is 100%possible
- Lobby for better public transport, standards to make our cars more efficient, more clean technology investment.
- Oppose increased fossil fuel exploration.
- Get out of your car and use public transport, ride a bike or walk.
- Fly less.
- Join WWF and 350.org as they lobby Government to pull more than $1b of public funds out of supporting fossil fuel industries (see their websites for more info).
#3 Clean up our energy. The number one way to cut emissions quickly is to stop burning coal as soon as possible. But to do so, we also need cheap, renewable energy to be widely available.
- Get behind clean energy projects in your area.
- Change to a power company with a commitment to renewables.
- Reduce your energy use with efficient appliances, turning things off at the wall and changing to low-energy lightbulbs.
- Start your own energy-generation project (e.g. www.blueskinpower.co.nz). The Kāpiti Coast District Council is supporting a fledgling group of locals interested in community-owned renewable generation – contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
#4 Improve land use. Reducing deforestation and improving soil conservation allows our natural ecosystems that absorb CO2 to take some of the excess carbon out of the atmosphere.
- Support the organisations striving to protect our natural areas.
- Reduce your meat and dairy consumption.
- Plant trees.
- Put a covenant on your forest.
#5 Together we are stronger.
- Keep linked in with Keep a Cool World , the news and upcoming events
- Join 350 Aotearoa or other climate action groups to be kept informed of initiatives as they happen in your area.
- A personal commitment to doing whatever you can is a significant step.