Time to act!

Every action - big or small, positive or negative - influences the likely impact of climate change. Because of that, every choice each of us makes - today and tomorrow - will contribute to what we and future generations will experience and must adapt to.

We know there is still time to choose actions that will lessen the impacts of climate change. What part will you play as an individual, as a family, and as a community? This includes influencing the Government, business and decision makers.

The outcome or ‘adaptation required’ depends on the amount of greenhouse gases produced. And the amount of greenhouse gases produced is highly influenced by what we – as individuals, communities, and whole populations - do globally, nationally and locally.

It is that simple!

There are many ways that you, your families, and communities, can learn about, prepare for, and take action on, climate change!

Let’s get talking!

When and where possible and appropriate, we all need to start talking about climate change - what is happening and why. Most importantly, we need to decide what we can do as a country, as communities and as individuals, to reduce the impact of enhanced greenhouse gases and warming temperatures.

Actions you can take

Get talking! Get others on board, spread the message. We need lots of people making good choices about climate action. Get involved and talk to others to get them involved. You can be powerful as change agents!

Be aware of your emissions

If you have an indication of where most of your greenhouse gas emissions are coming from, you can choose to take the actions that have the biggest impacts.

Actions you can take

Get an indication of your EcologicalFootprint - Global Footprint Network website: www.footprintcalculator.org

Or, go home and calculate the emissions from your homes using the free enviro-mark calculator.

Why not take it a ‘foot print’ further?

What is your school’s footprint and what can be done to reduce it? Write to your local MP and ask what they’re doing to reduce their emissions. Or, take one further step forward – email the Minister for Climate Change and/or the Prime Minister to ask what they’re doing to support us to reduce our carbon footprint.

Explore Sustainable Selves

Drive & fly less

The transport sector contributes 19% of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Actions you can take

  • Walk or cycle - it is free, has the least impact on the environment and is good for your health.
  • Take the bus.
  • Carpool with friends.
  • Reduce the number of flights you take, when possible (this has been shown to be one of the most effective climate change actions you can take).
  • When you fly, pay to offset your emissions.
  • Buy things that have been made or grown locally, so they haven’t had to travel far.
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Reduce your electricity use

Greenhouse gas emissions are produced when we use electricity and gas. New Zealand has a high level of renewable electricity production, mostly from hydropower. In 2013, a total of 75% of electricity generation came from renewable sources. But that leaves 25% still supplemented by burning fossil fuels.

Actions you can take

  • Switch off lights when not in use.
  • Use LED light bulbs.
  • Unplug electronics from the wall socket when they’re not in use.
  • Run the dishwasher and the washing machine only when full.
  • Wash clothes in cold water and dry them outdoors when possible.
  • Try having shorter showers or shower before going to bed (there is less fossil fuelled electricity generation after 9 pm).
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Eat less meat & dairy products

Red meat and dairy production results in significantly more greenhouse gas emissions than the production of chicken meat, fruit, vegetables and cereals. It also requires substantially more water. Around 30% of the world’s land area is used for livestock production, and it is one of the key reasons for cutting down forests.

Actions you can take

  • Reduce or cut out dairy from your diet.
  • Elimate or cut down on meat. Eat more fruit and vegetables instead - this has many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Try having a meatless day each week.
Explore How to Eat With Care

Shop local & buy second hand

When you buy local food or products it means that your food hasn’t had to travel so far (in a vehicle which uses fossil fuels). You are also helping our economy.

Buying second hand is often not only cheaper, it diverts goods from the landfill and gives items a much longer life than they would otherwise have. They can also be run by charities, meaning some of the profits go towards that charity.

Actions you can take

  • Plant vegetables and fruit trees. Containers are great if you are short of space.
  • Buy local and in-season foods that haven’t travelled long distances to reach you.
  • Shop at local secondhand stores or online marketplaces (e.g. TradeMe) for everything from clothes to furniture, kitchenware & books!
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Reduce, reuse, recycle

The best way to reduce waste is to avoid creating it in the first place! All products require energy and materials to be built, packaged, transported and sold. Reducing your consumption in general is good for the environment, and for your wallet.

Actions you can take

  • Buy only the food you need and compost your kitchen scraps and garden waste.

Around half of the waste that ends up in New Zealand landfills is organic material (food, garden, paper and wood waste). When organic material decomposes, it produces methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

  • Buy products without any packaging whenever possible and always take your reusable bags to the supermarket.

Make the most of what you already have.

  • Maintaining and repairing products, such as your clothes, means they don’t have to be replaced so often.
  • Ask yourself: ‘Do I really need this?’ Think about what will happen to it after you have finished with it. Will it last long? How quickly will it end up in a landfill?
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Plant trees

In New Zealand, forests offset nearly 30% of our greenhouse gas emissions.

A regenerating native forest can remove more than 8 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare per year from the atmosphere over its first 50 years.

Studies have shown that coastal vegetation can reduce erosion and minimise the impact of waves and floods, and gradual changes such as sea level rise.

Trees provide shade, which has a cooling effect in towns and cities. Placed strategically around buildings, they can cut electricity used for cooling in summer.

Actions you can take

  • Plant native trees on your property.
  • Get involved in a community forest restoration, dune care or coastal revegetation programme in your area.
Explore Trees For Tomorrow

Conserve water

Climate change is likely to have an impact on our water resources. Water supply may be altered due to changes in temperature and rainfall patterns, and water demand is likely to increase during the summer months as temperatures increase.

Be proactive in developing household or farm water conservation measures.

Actions you can take

  • Replace lawns with native plants. Maintaining a grass lawn uses 80% more water than maintaining native plants. Native plants also provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife.
  • Collect rainwater and use it to water the garden and for other household tasks that don’t require drinking quality water.
  • When buying new household devices, consider how water-efficient they are.
  • Plan and plant a native garden,
  • Save water
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Make your money count

These actions have a higher cost, but a big impact:

  • If you are building a house, include balconies, shading and efficient cooling systems such as natural ventilation.
  • Use passive solar design and insulation - this reduces the need for heating in winter and airconditioning in summer.
  • If you replace your car, consider electric - bike or car!
  • Building an energy efficient home
Explore Sustainable Selves

Make your vote count

National, regional and local politics greatly determine our response to climate change.

Make your vote count and your voice heard.

Actions you can take

  • Vote for political candidates that represent the direct action you would like to see on climate change.
  • Demand policy that provides for a low emission economy, protects the future for vulnerable people, animals and environments at risk from climate change and funds initiatives to restore what ahs already been lost.