Climate Solutions

by Nature

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