Climate change: Taking action

So what can we do about climate change as individuals? And why bother?

In the face of climate grief, there are many possible responses, but the one I prefer is to take action.

Finding tangible, practical things we can do to reduce our emissions, individually and locally can be both therapeutic as well as constructive.

And what can make those actions even more powerful, is by using them to tell a story. This way, local action can enable regional and national action. Politicians listen to individual constituents, but they also listen to interest groups. Writing a letter to call for action is one thing. Showing the garden or trees you have planted or the business you support for doing the right thing adds weight to your message, and can also persuade other people to take action.

So here’s my recipe:

1. Understand that carbon dioxide emissions are the main contributor to climate change

2. Look for the biggest ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions: through changes to transport and energy generation

3. Take action to support those initiatives.

4. Document your actions and share them on the Facebook page Common Climate NZ or send me the information

What will make the most difference?

Priorities Globally New Zealand govt & business New Zealand communities
1. Renewable energy -Increasing the amount of renewable energy generated to phase out fossil fuel generation -Further increasing our proportion of renewable energy (already 80%)
-Providing our expertise to other countries
-Contributing to renewable energy projects overseas.
-Choosing the power company that has the best renewable energy profile
2. Transport – ⅔ of transport is individual cars – convert to electric or reduce use
– ⅓ of transport is trucks and other freight – convert to electric/hydrogen/biofuels or find other efficiencies.
As per overseas – Replace old cars with electric
– Reduce car use – bike, public transport, car pool
– Support companies with electric fleets
– Support companies that have low-carbon freight
3. Agriculture Global meat and dairy production generates higher emissions than plant-based food. Reduce consumption of meat and dairy and improve the production methods. – NZ meat and dairy is relatively low-emission. But increase horticulture.
– NZ can export their agricultural expertise to help the rest of the world.
-Reduce the meat and dairy you eat and increase plant-based meals.
– When you buy them, support those companies that are reducing their emissions
4. Industrial energy use – Companies need to move away from coal-fired heat generation. Govt departments and companies need to move away from coal-fired heat generation (give NZ examples) – Support companies who are moving away from coal-fired heat generation (for example Synlait)
5. Tree planting – Reduce deforestation – particularly the Amazon – Support widespread tree-planting, mixture of natives and pine – Support local tree-planting schemes. – Contribute to community gardens.
– Increase innovation and technology on reducing emissions
-Increase reporting on climate risks
– Support businesses and policies for doing this.

What else can New Zealanders do?

  • Write to politicians supporting the Zero Carbon Bill and other action
  • Move your Kiwisaver to divest from fossil fuels
  • Ask your bank to divest from fossil fuels, or move to one that already has.
  • Support companies that are reducing emissions, eg Climate Leaders Coalition
  • Contribute to local and regional projects to reduce emissions
  • Reduce your household emissions overall (turning off lights, eating less meat, flying less)
  • Offset your emissions by contributing to renewable energy projects overseas.

This is my recipe, but I’d be keen to hear other ideas. Please get in touch.


Author: Catherine Jeffcoat

Wellington-based communications manager.

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