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Key responses to climate change

Editorial

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.

  1. Clive Bibby says:

    Nice try Jeremy
    Or perhaps you could say that in the real world, the most important climate change response is that of the two biggest polluters who are increasing their fossil fuel based emissions like there is no tomorrow and the fools who have signed up to the Paris Accord are cheering them on.
    I thought those same people (IPCC and the world leaders promoting this contradictory
    madness) were telling us that we only had 10 years to stop this damaging activity, yet are prepared to allow China and India to continue increasing their own “damaging” policies with no restrictions until 2035 before we try to rein them in. But it is OK for it to happen like that because they will promise to be good boys after they have been instrumental in destroying the earth – at least that appears to be the deal they have struck.
    Even I can work out that the horse will have well and truly bolted by then.

    Footnote from Ed: Hi Clive, China and India both have official policies now of going beyond their Paris Accord commitments. China has said it hopes to hit peak carbon emissions by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2060.
    India is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, about half of what the United States emits (2.65GT vs 5.41GT in 2018; China emitted 10.06GT in 2018).
    The United States is responsible for about 25 percent of historical GHG emissions — twice as much as China, the world’s second largest national contributor. India is not a large contributor on a historical basis.
    There has been general acceptance that the developed world, which developed off the back of cheap fossil fuels, is obligated to lead the way in transitioning away from fossil fuels. But, yes, China and India are big emitters now and have an important role to play in reducing global emissions.
    See also:
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/marshallshepherd/2021/01/22/clearing-the-airthe-us-india-china-and-the-paris-agreement/?sh=20a4ea41278b