Climate change is everything change

Our carbon pollution will have impacts all over the world - including here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Climate change is bigger than politics. This affects everyone.

We have a problem

Our climate is changing fast, and threatening the people, animals and places we love. New Zealand can expect melting glaciers, rising seas, and new and more frequent extreme weather events. This will have huge impacts for our lives and livelihoods – and for our unique animals, plants, and ecosystems.

We know that human activities such as burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas , cutting down forests, and intensifying animal agriculture are to blame. Recent research proves that the vast majority of fossil fuels must stay in the ground. We cannot afford to keep searching for new oil, gas and coal.

Climate change is caused by human activities. When we burn fossil fuels, we release carbon pollution into the air. Forests help to absorb this carbon dioxide, so deforestation also contributes to the planet's warming.

However, carbon dioxide isn't the only greenhouse gas. Other gases, like methane and nitrous oxide also trap heat in the atmosphere. Animal agriculture is a big emitter of these gases.

New Zealanders produce a lot of greenhouse gases compared to the rest of the world. Though we're a small country, so our absolute total emissions are small, our emissions per person are big. Per person, we're one of the thirty biggest emitters worldwide - and agriculture is responsible for around half of those emissions.

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Climate change is already affecting New Zealand. Our people and ecosystems are already feeling the heat.

Already, the national average temperature has risen by 0.9˚C since 1900. South Island glaciers are retreating, and we're recording fewer frosts. New Zealand ports have measured an average 16cm of sea level rise over the last 100 years. And businesses and people are already paying more for insurance to deal with extreme weather, like floods and droughts.

We can expect a lot more to come. Climate change will almost certainly cause more droughts, particularly in Northland and the East Cape. It will mean increased rainfall in other areas, particularly the West Coast, and an increased risk of flooding. Coastal areas will face greater erosion, and possible inundation. 

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People around the world are already feeling the impacts of climate change. Water supplies are shrinking, crop yields are dropping, forests are burning, and our oceans are becoming more acidic. This has huge implications for our livelihoods and human security.

Fragile ecosystems, like coral reefs, are also already succumbing to climate change impacts. Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and new and more frequent weather extremes will leave no continent untouched. 

If we let the warming continue unchecked, we run a real risk of hitting catastrophic tipping points. That's where the warming triggers positive feedback loops that lead to even more warming.

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To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, scientists warn that average global temperatures should not be allowed to rise more than 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels. 

When the world's governments committed to the Paris Agreement in 2015 - a new, global deal on climate change - they answered a call from our Pasifika neighbours, and agreed to try to keep warming below 1.5˚C.

A rise in temperature above 1.5˚C could lead to a significant rise in sea levels, potentially displacing tens of millions of people, especially in the Pacific), a dramatic reduction in global food supplies, water shortages affecting hundreds of millions of people, and an increased risk of extinction for up to 30% of the world’s species.

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The good news is: we have the solutions. Real, technically feasible, affordable alternatives to fossil fuels exist now. To keep warming below 1.5˚C, we need to make the switch from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy and bring our carbon pollution down to net zero by 2050.

Thing is, this won't just stop climate change. Switching from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable energy will be better for people, communities and businesses all over the world.

And the change is already underway. Renewable energy technologies like wind and solar are getting cheaper and cheaper, and rolling out worldwide faster and faster. We can do this.

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But we know the solution

Fortunately though, we also know the solution: switching to 100% renewable energy. Renewable energy alternatives are growing fast and getting more competitive than ever, helping to shield the things we love from the worst climate risks, while improving human health, boosting our economies, and creating jobs.

What WWF is doing

WWF-New Zealand is working with all kinds of New Zealanders - from communities and people, to businesses and industries, to faith groups and trade unions - to show that it is 100% possible for Aotearoa New Zealand to forge a just, fair pathway to a 100% renewable energy future, with net zero carbon pollution.


We're all in this together

No one is too small to help. Together, we can put New Zealand on track for a 100% renewable energy future. It's 100% possible.

You have the power to demand change. As well as leading by example by switching up your own lifestyle, you can use your voice to help change local and national government priorities, and to help businesses make the switch to the renewable energy future.

Together, the future we want is possible. Will you stand with us?


Here's the latest climate news from WWF-New Zealand:

Extra Time Should Result in Greater Climate Ambition & Action

We understand the Government's decision to take more time to begin the consultation process for Aotearoa's Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP). However, ...

15 Sep 2021 Read more »

A Positive Sea Change for Tīkapa Moana, the Hauraki Gulf

WWF-New Zealand is thrilled to finally see the Government take action to revitalize the Gulf - based on Tai Timu Tai Pari/Sea Change - the Hauraki ...

21 Jun 2021 Read more »

Cameras on Fishing Boats: Finally, A Win for Transparency

After advocating for years, WWF-New Zealand is thrilled we are able to celebrate the Government's announcement to put cameras on over 300 commercial ...

17 Jun 2021 Read more »