All Kiwis need to be involved in climate change fight


Continuing climate change seriously threatens New Zealand, and a new report has suggestions on how we might mitigate the impact.

The Royal Society of New Zealand's new report recommends a number of actions, and says all Kiwis need to pitch in.

"Business-as-usual approaches will not get us where we need to be, ambitious action is needed now by all New Zealanders," says Professor Ralph Sims, chair of the expert panel behind the report.

Royal Society President Professor Richard Bedford says people need to become "personally involved" in the fight.

"All New Zealanders need to understand the threats of climate change, accept that we need to change the way we act, realise there are trade-offs that will need to be made, and become personally involved in implementing mitigation solutions.

"The sooner we make changes, the more likely it is that we can avoid the worst impacts of climate change."

One of New Zealand's major contributors to carbon emissions is the huge agriculture industry, which makes nearly half our total emissions, and there's no quick fix.

But adopting 'best practices', selectively breeding and biologically modifying the digestive systems of sheep and cows could reduce our emissions, without having to reduce our reliance on meat and milk production.

Another large contributor to our greenhouse emissions is the nation's dependence on coal, oil and gas for electricity, industrial heating processes, transport and everyday activities in homes and commercial buildings.

If use of renewable energy such as solar panels and hydroelectric power is increased from 80 percent to 90 percent by 2025, something the Royal Society says is feasible, it would result in fewer emissions being produced.

Ninety-nine percent of the transport industry is dependent on fossil fuels. More fuel-efficient vehicles and low-carbon vehicles would also be beneficial, alongside improving public transport and urban design to encourage cycling and walking.

And while planting more forests would be a good carbon-sink in the short time, it's not a reliable long-term solution, the report says.

"It is an effective strategy in the short to medium term while other sectors transition to low-carbon technologies," Prof Sims says.