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Climate Change & Nature

Aotearoa

Protect.  Restore.  Thrive.

Climate Change & Nature

Protect.  Restore.  Thrive.

The climate is changing.  And we’re getting prepared.

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 are facing an existential threat–literally a threat to our existence–so

Aotearoa has declared a climate emergency.

We know how to respond to the emergency. And we can afford to do so.

“...77% of land (excluding Antarctica) and 87% of the area of the ocean have been modified by the direct effects of human activities. These changes are associated with the loss of 83% of wild mammal biomass, and half that of plants. Livestock and humans now account for nearly 96% of all mammal biomass on Earth, and more species are threatened with extinction than ever before in human history.” – IPCC-IPBES (June 2021)

“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 almost half of the total atmospheric CO2 increase since the Industrial Revolution.” – Strassburg et al, 2020.

This website features:

  • A comprehensive climate wiki to answer questions and support education and knowledge about climate change. The content, which is updated regularly, has been developed using science underpinned by peer-reviewed research.
  • An expanding networking hub to share resources and information, showcasing what local people are doing to help us all develop climate resiliency by protecting and restoring natural ecosystems.

Our goal: help everyone protect and restore natural ecosystems so that we can all thrive in a changing climate


The climate is changing. And we’re getting prepared.

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 are facing an existential threat–literally a threat to our existence–so Aotearoa has declared a climate emergency.

We know how to respond to the emergency. And we can afford to do so.

“...77% of land (excluding Antarctica) and 87% of the area of the ocean have been modified by the direct effects of human activities. These changes are associated with the loss of 83% of wild mammal biomass, and half that of plants. Livestock and humans now account for nearly 96% of all mammal biomass on Earth, and more species are threatened with extinction than ever before in human history.” – IPCC-IPBES 2021

“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 almost half of the total atmospheric CO2 increase since the Industrial Revolution.” – Strassburg et al, 2020

This website features:

  • A comprehensive climate wiki to answer questions and support education and knowledge about climate change. The content, which is updated regularly, has been developed using science underpinned by peer-reviewed research.
  • An expanding networking hub to share resources and information, showcasing what local people are doing to help us all develop climate resiliency by protecting and restoring natural ecosystems.

Our goal: help everyone protect and restore natural ecosystems so that we can all thrive in a changing climate

The dual problem

The world’s plan

Part A: Keep emitting greenhouse gasses (global energy demand is set to increase by 4.6% in 2021). Hope the pace slows so that by 2050 everyone will be carbon zero….except NZ’s agricultural sector.

Part B: Pull excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through negative emissions technologies…most of which sell it as fuel that returns carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. A few are pumping it underground and hoping it doesn’t escape.

Part C: Adapt. Fast. Because thanks to A & B, dangerous climate tipping points not included in the Paris Accord to keep temperatures under 1.5°C are already being exceeded, natural ecosystems continue to be rapidly destroyed, and the conservative International Energy Agency acknowledges that even if every country meets its Paris Accord promises to reduce emissions, we’re going to exceed 2°C.

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 stories about your native restoration  projects, including weed and pest control, so that we can add them to the ‘Our Places‘ section of this website.

The climate is changing.       And so can we.

The smart response

Stop pouring greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and mobilise the free ecosystem services provided by nature. This the most cost-effective and practical strategy to address the dual problem (Fig. 1). We know this will work because it worked perfectly well before we broke things. The benefits include:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Drawing atmospheric carbon back into the ground
  • Reducing economic and social upheaval
  • Replenishing ecosystem services across multiple habitats
  • Restoring health to waterways
  • Restoring mahinga kai
  • Increasing agricultural productivity while reducing emissions
  • Creating new business opportunities
  • Reducing the impacts of climate change on our health & wellbeing
    Fig. 1: The solid dark blue line show emissions targets to keep us below 2°C. The solid light blue line show emissions targets to keep us below 1.5°C. However, in reality, we are on track for temperatures reach 3°C by 2100 (red line). The blue dotted lines show the amount we can suppress warming if Nature Based Solutions (NBS) are ambitious and designed for longevity. (Image: Nature)

    Explainers

    With a focus on Canterbury, this site includes resources relevant to all of Aotearoa.

    An emergency by definition is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. An emergency disrupts 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

    Given the evidence and intention of several governments to produce 120% more fossil fuels by 2030, even using a 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? Some effects of climate change such as rising sea levels are now ‘locked in’, that is, they are unavoidable. IPCC reports state that irreversible climate tipping points could be reached between 1°-2°C above pre-industrial temperatures. We now passed 1.1°C and dangerous tipping points are already being breached. Even if countries act on their Paris climate pledges to reduce emissions, we are on track for warming of more than 3°C.

    “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

    How much time do we have? Climate tipping points are already being breached and the World Meteorological Organisation is predicting we may reach 1.5°C in the next five years. Aotearoa uses more than six times our fair share of the carbon emissions budget aimed to keep global temperature increases below 1.5°C, with 47.8% of our emissions (from agriculture) given a free pass under the Emissions Trading Scheme. We are one of the worst countries, ranking 44th out of 45 of the world’s Industrialised countries.

    “The time is now, Ināia tonu nei, to lead the change we want to see and to remain steadfast to the values that underpin our nationhood—values like whanaungatanga, kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga.” – Climate Change Commission 2021

     Instructions for this interactive graph (Credit: The 2° Institute.)

    • Compare this to rising global temperatures by clicking the planet/thermometer icon at the top left corner.
    • Mouse over anywhere on the graph to see the changes in global atmospheric carbon dioxide over the last thousand years.
    • To see details for time periods of your choice, hold your mouse button down on one section then drag the mouse across a few years, and release it.
    • To see how this compares to the past 771,000 years, click on the ‘time’ icon on the top left.
    • To return the graph to its original position, double-click the time icon to the left of the thermometer/planet icon

    The annual ups and downs in the graph are because plants accumulate carbon in the spring and summer and release some back to the air in autumn and winter. As the northern hemisphere has more land and more plants, carbon dioxide levels go up in winter. Annual measurements of carbon dioxide are an average of these ups and downs.

    References and further reading