Canterbury, we are experiencing a climate emergency.
Climate change is already affecting our local ecosystems and communities, with future projections of worse storms, floods and droughts happening more often, further sea level rise, and changes in the diversity of plants and animals in our region.
No matter where you live or what you do, climate change has knock-on effects that impact us all. These can include changes in weather patterns that affect food production, losses of biodiversity and habitat, or homes and businesses being damaged due to higher intensity storms or rising sea levels.
We know this isn’t an easy topic, and it can be a bit scary or overwhelming for some of us. So how do we address what seems like such a huge and impossible problem?
We start small, local.
Our aim is not to tell you what to do, but to help you understand and prepare for the changes Canterbury/Waitaha is likely to experience. We believe that as well as taking action to reduce the impacts of climate change, we should also be readying ourselves to adapt to it.
Here you’ll find reliable information about the potential effects of climate change on our region so you can make up your own mind about what you will do to help reduce or manage its impact.
Canterbury/Waitaha is a strong region known for our resilience, adaptability and unity. So let’s talk about it, because it’s time, Canterbury.
Over many years, scientists and tohunga have learnt a lot about Earth’s climate system. We know the climate is changing, and Earth’s temperature is currently warming much faster than we’ve experienced before.
Climate change is a change in the average climate conditions that we experience, such as temperature and rainfall, over a long period of time. While the earth’s climate has varied naturally over millions of years, recent, dramatic changes in the earth's climate can be linked to human activities, like burning fossil fuels, which emit greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases act like a big blanket around the planet, trapping heat within our atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are important because they keep the earth at temperatures so that life can exist. But as their levels increase, Earth’s temperature continues to rise, causing changes in rainfall, weather patterns, and the frequency of extreme events, melting ice and rising sea levels. This results in a range of effects we experience in our natural environment and the areas we live in.
In some ways, warmer temperatures could be appealing, but the range of impacts associated with climate change vary widely across New Zealand and around the world. Even with a rise of just 1.5- 2°C in temperature we can expect more frequent severe weather events that disrupt daily life and business, higher sea levels, as well as the permanent loss of some natural habitats, affecting mahinga kai and kaimoana.
To curb the worst impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions need to be seriously reduced on a global scale. That’s a big job. And that’s why we’re focusing on a smaller area we know we can influence – our region.
In this day and age, it’s easy to think new technologies will have the answer. There will be some that make improvements. But changes to the way we think and live are also needed. Some changes will have benefits that directly influence the immediate risks climate change presents. But there are many things we can do that can improve the long-term sustainability of our region as well as making a difference in terms of climate change - things that make sense to do anyway.
- reducing how much water we use
- having more urban greenspace
- insulating our homes
- in summer, shopping locally, and walking, biking, or catching the bus instead of taking a car.
Read all about how you can make a difference here.
At a national level, the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019 has a target for New Zealand to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, except biogenic methane, which has its own separate reduction target. And around the world, the Paris Agreement includes 175 parties all committed to limiting average temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.