Key responses to climate change
The most important climate change response globally is the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy for how we power our transport, industry and all other aspects of our lives; the most efficient way to speed this transition is to place a price on carbon emissions and progressively raise it.
Governments have other vital roles, like fostering global co-operation in this effort to hold back the warming that imperils so much of the life on our planet; co-investing in the research and development required to support and speed up the transition away from fossil fuels, and in reducing and/or capturing carbon and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; protecting and growing forests in appropriate places; and supporting those impacted negatively by the necessary changes and the impacts of a changing climate.
When we get to the local level, the best pointer to what this district should be doing is the weighty report by Niwa released late last year: Climate change projections and impacts for Tairawhiti and Hawke's Bay.
This is the expert view on what climate change will look like in our region over next 80 years, with its impacts on agriculture and horticulture, river flows and water availability for city and town supply, stock water and aquifer capacity.
We'll face drought conditions more often, some more severe; annual rainfall will decrease by up to 5 percent by 2040, with 10-15 percent decreases expected by 2090 depending on GHG concentrations (some of the largest projected decreases across the country).
Temperatures are projected to increase by 0.5-1C over the next 20 years, and by 1-1.5C by 2090 (or 2-3C under a high ghg concentration pathway). There will be more extreme hot days. This will likely impact the primary sector through more pests and diseases, and stress on livestock and plants; increased CO2 will increase plant growth rates but that might be limited by availability of water.
We will get more extreme rainfall events, so more slips and erosion if we don't have the right trees in the right places, as well as more floods and damage to infrastructure.
Sea levels are expected to rise by a metre by 2100 which will mean more coastal erosion and inundation events, with impacts on residential properties and infrastructure — such as road links between Gisborne city and towns further north.
This is why climate change needs to be the “lens over everything” our council does.