Everyone can help make a difference.
To address our region’s changing climate, we need to change the way we live. We have a small window of time to prevent the worst case climate change projections coming to pass. At the same time, we need to prepare for the effects of climate change that are already locked in.
We used to live low carbon, we can do it again.
Right now though, there are plenty of ways Canterbury/Waitaha individuals, whānau, households, businesses and organisations can shape our own low carbon future. You might even find there are benefits that stretch beyond this into other economic, health and environmental impacts. Here are some things you can consider doing.
- Fill in the ‘It’s time to …’ card and share your top tip or priority for addressing climate change.
- Understanding how you are contributing to climate change is a great place to start. You can check out your carbon footprint using this Ecological Footprint Calculator.
- The Ministry for the Environment has many examples of free or low-cost actions you can take every day, such as shopping local, reducing your energy use, and thinking about what you eat.
- Gen Less, by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, has dozens of ideas for things you can do for free, changes that cost a bit, and big changes worth investing in.
- Project Drawdown is a really useful resource for climate solutions.
- The Sustainable Living Trust helps you with practical and fun ways to reduce your environmental impact, for a healthier, lower-waste yet good quality lifestyle.
- The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority has tools to help you measure your impact and make climate positive choices.
- Interested in becoming entirely carbon neutral? You’ll need to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The Ministry for the Environment provides guidance for measuring and offsetting emissions.
- For kids, download Environment Canterbury’s ‘Changing Climate’ booklet, and NIWA’s climate change resources.
- Tamariki will also enjoy hearing from the scientists working to understand climate change and the important role we have in protecting Antarctica and the planet in this TVNZ Science on Ice episode.
Climate change increases the chance of extreme and sudden emergencies. Canterbury Ready provides information about hazards in your area, and how to be ready at home, at work and as a community. This includes information about how to prepare for floods, fires and storms, and what to do during a crisis.
If you live in or are planning to move to a coastal area, it is time to consider the impacts future sea level rise will have on coastal hazards such as erosion and flooding, and the flow on effects for insurance. Improved information is becoming available as regional and local councils identify areas that could be affected by coastal hazards over a timeframe of at least 100 years. This new information includes the impacts of climate change and sea level rise, and will eventually influence planning rules.
Watch and learn
Are you thinking about coastal adaptation planning for your neighbourhood or the coastal areas that are special to you?
These videos help explain what is already happening, and what is being done, here in New Zealand.
Gardens, forests and wetlands store carbon and act as the planet’s lungs, with plants turning carbon dioxide into oxygen.
Right now, nature needs a helping hand. Supporting local planting projects and wetland restoration, and generally improving the greenery in our environment, makes a real difference.
- Canterbury has many planting projects, which protect and restore biodiversity on private and public land as well as using carbon dioxide. Improving the health of habitats and waterways also helps ecosystems to be more resilient to change.
- Planting a garden? Consider natives as a climate-friendly choice. Research shows that New Zealand’s natives store more carbon than exotic species, and they often need less water to grow. The Department of Conservation has tips on planning and planting a native garden.
- You might also like to get involved in a community forest restoration, dune care or coastal revegetation programme in your area. Check in with your local council for projects in your area.
- Climate change will bring more extreme conditions which could cause fires, and we all need to be prepared. Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) says New Zealanders need to start thinking like Australians and consider what we can do to prevent fires, and to protect ourselves and our properties from them. There are simple things you can do right now to protect yourself.
Climate change is likely to affect our water supply as temperatures and rainfall patterns change. This may increase pressure on freshwater quantity and flows. Being proactive now in developing water conservation measures will ensure you’re prepared.
Reduce, reuse, recycle! What we send off to landfill accounts for 90 per cent of the emissions from all waste. Reducing what we throw away will slash emissions and help us to think twice about our valuable resources. Consider the below to reduce your waste and find more tips for reducing, reusing, and recycling waste here.
- Try to buy products with less packaging, such as loose fruit and vegetables. The production of packaging releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Take your own recyclable or cloth shopping bags to the supermarket.
- Recycle paper, glass, tin, and plastics whenever you can. Recycling helps reduce emissions as it takes less energy to recycle something than to make it from scratch.
- Compost your food scraps – at home and at school! This will help feed your garden as well as reduce the methane gas emissions from landfill waste.
Dealing with our waste better
- Creating a circular, self-sustaining economy will reduce emissions.
- WasteMINZ provides information to businesses and organisations on waste and resource recovery, such as how manufacturers can reduce packaging.
- In Canterbury, grants for waste reduction projects can be accessed through the Canterbury Waste Joint Committee.
- Farmers and growers can safely and sustainably dispose of agrichemicals, biological, dairy hygiene and animal health products through AgRecovery programmes.
New Zealand is working to nearly eliminate transport emissions by 2050. Here in Canterbury, where about 75% of us drive to work, we have much to do.
Gen Less has highlighted the damage being done by the 12 short car trips each Kiwi household, on average, takes every week. By saying no to short car trips, and stretching our legs instead through walking or biking, we can slash greenhouse gas emissions, plus enjoy the benefits of getting a little fresh air and exercise while also getting somewhere.The benefits go beyond emissions reductions too. A reduction in cars on our roads relieves traffic congestion can fewer accidents and fatalities tend to occur. Check out some of the walking and cycle paths in your area here or give walking to school or work a try.
Car-pooling is also a good idea. Talk to friends or neighbours to see if you can share the cost of one car instead of five! There are a number of apps that make this easier such as the Government’s SmartTravel - see what others you can find. An alternative is having community cars. A community car is a car that a community – rather than an individual – owns, maintains, and uses, saving on overall costs.
Another option is to invest in an electric vehicle. Electric vehicles need to be widely adopted in the coming years if we are to nearly eliminate transport emissions by 2050. There are plenty of benefits of going electric, including fewer emissions, low running costs, and a super quiet ride. If you are buying a vehicle, check out these resources to help with your decision.
Home heating New Zealand is fortunate to be rich in the clean resources that will fuel our future – wind, geothermal, hydro-power, and solar. We need to use more of them, so we can start to eliminate fossil fuels. This means ending the use of coal, and reducing how much natural gas we use. This will mean changes to the way we heat our water and power our homes and businesses.
There are many tips you can implement for reducing energy use at home and work, as well as low-cost actions you can take every day, such as:
- Use energy-efficient light bulbs. According to the EECA, LED lights use about 85 percent less power than incandescent bulbs, meaning an 85 percent reduction in carbon emissions. An LED bulb can save you between $100 and $300 over its lifetime.
- Turn off power to things you don’t need. While many modern appliances use much less power in standby mode than old ones, they are still sucking up power. It can account for almost 10 percent of your power bill. Save money by turning off when not in use.
- A great way to make use of our amazing sun is to put solar electricity (photovoltaic) panels on your house. This will change the sunlight
directly into electricity to use in your home and thereby save you money! Or you could install a solar water heating system to directly heat your water and also save money!
- Other simple things you can do include insulating your home, taking shorter showers and line-drying your clothes.
Assistance to switch your home to an efficient heat pump is also available:
- Warmer Kiwi Homes is a Government programme offering insulation and heater grants to low-income homeowners.
If you need to upgrade from an older-style wood burner to a new, cleaner form of heating, you can visit ecan.govt.nz/heating-rules for advice on the different options and what low-income financial support may be available to you.
Businesses can also make a difference
Learn the many ways your business can make a difference and move towards a thriving, low-emissions economy. Gen Less provides some information and programmes your organisation may be eligible for co-funding, loans or expert advice to help with energy efficiency and emissions reduction.
Reading, listening, learning and engaging are our best tools for staying well informed and being prepared for the impacts of climate change.
Here’s a few links to get you started:
- Climate change news - The Forever Project.
- Gen Less - inspiring ideas to reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.
- Science Media Centre.
- Ngāi Tahu Climate Change Strategy.
- He Pou a Rangi / Climate Change Commission.
- Climate change projections for Canterbury.
- Greenhouse gas emissions by region (industry and household).
- Canterbury Mayoral Forum Climate Change Risk Screening.
- Climate Change: Prepare today, live well tomorrow: A day in the life of a coastal hazards scientist.
- It's time, Canterbury quarterly email. You can sign up to our quarterly email or read previous issues here.
There’s lots to think about when we’re out shopping. As consumers we have a lot of influence on producers as well as on the choices our peers make.
What are the carbon miles on the food you buy each week? What food in your diet contributes the most carbon emissions? What is the water footprint of your food and clothing? Where were your clothes made and by whom? Could you recycle, upcycle, trade-in, share your clothes, toys, furniture? Could you grow your own food, preserve, share excess or contribute to a community garden?
All food has a carbon footprint. This UK based calculator will give you some idea of your diet's carbon footprint.
Natural features such as sand dunes and coastal wetlands provide natural protection from coastal hazards and erosion. Restoration and protection of natural systems plays an important part in preparing and protecting coastal areas from climate change events like storms, floods and sea-level rise. Looking after our dunes and wetlands has other benefits too, such as maintaining our beaches, protection of coastal biodiversity and landscapes as well as the preservation of archaeological and cultural sites on the coast. They also serve to protect homes and businesses built in coastal areas.
Contact your local council or your local coast care group to see if there are any dune restoration projects that you could get involved in.