Protect. Restore. Thrive.
The climate is changing. And we are not prepared.
“It is unequivocal that human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are warming the global climate system. Climate change is already affecting New Zealand. Over the past century, temperatures have increased, glaciers have melted, and sea levels have risen. Such changes will continue and their impacts increase. This will have far-reaching consequences for people, the natural and built environment, the economy and governance.” – National Climate Change Risk Assessment for New Zealand | Arotakenga Tūraru mō te Huringa Āhuarangi o Āotearoa, Ministry for the Environment, August 2020
We are facing an existential threat – literally a threat to our existence. Many councils around Aotearoa have acknowledged this threat by declaring a climate emergency.
“We have to realise that this is not playing games. This is not just having a nice little debate, arguments and then coming away with a compromise. This is an urgent problem that has to be solved and, what’s more, we know how to do it.” – Sir David Attenborough
We know how to respond to the emergency. And we can afford to do so.
“Restoring a third of the areas most degraded by humans and preserving remaining natural ecosystems would prevent 70% of projected extinctions of mammals, birds and amphibians. It would also sequester around 465 gigatonnes of CO2 — almost half of the total atmospheric CO2 increase since the Industrial Revolution.” – Strassburg et al, 2020.
With a focus on Canterbury, this site includes resources relevant to all of Aoteaora.
The goal of this site is to become an open resource and information hub; to share learning, knowledge, and practical actions to address the climate emergency by enlisting the free services provided by nature. These will help us both mitigate and also adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The content draws on peer-reviewed research and proven outcomes in a wide range of science disciplines such as chemistry, physics, ecology, agriculture, economics, and human health and well-being.
We know there’s some great work underway to build a safer, healthier, and more resilient future. Contact us if you would like to share your knowledge or information about your projects so that we can add them to the ‘Our Places’ section of the website.
“We have three choices: mitigation, adaptation, and suffering. We are going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be. The more mitigation we do, the less adaptation will be required and the less suffering there will be.” – John Holdren, US Office of Science and Technology Policy
“Nature is at the heart of our success, livelihood and wellbeing as New Zealanders. It is valuable for its own sake and provides us with so many benefits from clean water, pollination, flood protection, food production, and the landscapes that are the basis for our tourism industry.” – Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage
The most cost-effective and practical strategy is to rapidly mobilise the free ecosystem services provided by nature. To enable these services, we must restore the habits and biodiversity that provide them. And we must do so before they are irretrievably lost. These services will help:
- Reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere
- Sequester atmospheric carbon back into the ground
- Reduce economic & social upheaval of rising seas & severe weather
- Replenish biodiversity across multiple habitats, including soils
- Restore health to waterways
- Restore mahinga kai
- Increase agricultural productivity while reducing emissions
- Create new business opportunities
- Reduce the impacts of climate change on human health & wellbeing
An emergency by definition is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. By intent, declaring an emergency disrupts the status quo, that is, the way we go about our daily lives and our expectations for the future. So declaring an emergency can be justified only if:
- The risk is high; and
- The consequences of failure are unmanageable or unacceptable; and
- Time constraints govern whether a response will be effective.
Based on the evidence and intention of several governments to produce 120% more fossil fuels by 2030, even using a cautious and conservative analysis, declaring a climate emergency is the only rational and responsible action to avoid global social, economic, and environmental collapse within our lifetime and the lifetimes of our children and mokopuna.
Mitigation, adaptation, or both? To mitigate (reduce) the impacts of climate change, we need to:
- Emit fewer fossil fuel gasses into the atmosphere by decarbonsing our economy
- Take excess fossil fuel gasses from the atmosphere by restoring nature (while carbon capture technology is viable, it’s incredibly costly and does not bring the social, economic, and environmental co-benefits of restoring nature).
IPCC reports in 2018 and 2019 indicated that major tipping points could be reached between 1° and 2°C. We have now passed 1.1°C above pre-industrial temperatures, and there is strong evidence that key tipping points are being breached. Even if countries act on their Paris climate agreement pledges to reduce emissions, we are on track for warming of more than 3°C in spite of the brief reduction in emissions due to Covid-19. Therefore adaptation is necessary as some effects of climate change are now unavoidable.
How much time do we have? In spite of Covid-19, carbon emissions are rising sharply and climate tipping points are being breached. Globally, we have less then eight years to achieve net zero emissions. Most countries are reducing emissions through more sustainable energy production. That’s going to be harder for New Zealand as 47.8% of our emissions are from agriculture.
United Nations Emissions Gap Report 2019
The climate is changing. And so can we.
References and further reading
- ECan: Climate Change Canterbury
- Ministry for the Environment: National Climate Change Risk Assessment
- Ministry for the Environment: Climate Change Canterbury
- The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES): Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
- Carbon Watch New Zealand: NIWA
- Deep South Challenge: Changing with our Climate: NIWA research collaboration between Crown Research Institutes, universities, and research providers (primary source material for climate adaptation and mitigation Aotearoa)
- Climate Change News (NZ Stuff ‘The Forever Project’)
- Climate Change News (global news services)
- Carbon Brief (award-winning climate science, policy, and energy data mapping and analyses)
- Natural Climate Solutions
- MCC: Remaining Carbon Budget based on IPCC projections for 67% chance of max. 1.5C warming; Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change
- 2022: IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; AR6 report now underway; link includes scoping and background materials
- 2020: Carbon Brief webinar: What impact is Covid-19 having on global emissions?
- 2020: Höhne et al; Emissions: world has four times the work or one-third of the time; Nature 579, 25-28 doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00571-x
- 2020: Convention on Biological Diversity
- 2020: Shuckman; Sir David Attenborough warns of climate ‘crisis moment’; BBC
- 2020: Strassburg et al; Global priority areas for ecosystem restoration, Nature article
- 2019: UN Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report
- 2019: IPCC; Climate Change and Land
- 2018 IPCC: Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C approved by governments
- 2018: Carbon Brief Analysis; Why the IPCC 1.5C report expanded the carbon budget
- 2019: Gilding; Climate Emergency Defined; Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, Melbourne
- 2019: Department of Conservation; Government takes action for nature; media release
- 2019: Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019
- Ministry for the Environment: Rational and background material relating to the Act
- 2019: London School of Economics; The missing economic risks in assessments of climate change impacts
- 2019: IPCC; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on the oceans and cryosphere
- 2019: Paulik et al; Coastal Flooding Exposure Under Future Sea-level Rise for New Zealand: NIWA
- 2019: Paulik et al; New Zealand Fluvial and Pluvial Flood Exposure; NIWA
- 2018: IPCC; Global Warming of 1.5°C
- 2017: Griscom et al; Natural climate solutions;
- 2016: Jacobs; The Science/Policy Interface: Climate Assessment and Adaptation; University of Arizona