Global Impacts | WWF New Zealand

CLIMATE CHANGE IS EVERYTHING CHANGE

Climate change is the biggest global threat to human well-being.

When you change the climate, you change everything.

© Global Warming Images / WWF

The impacts of climate change are already being felt

All over the world, we're already seeing more extreme weather events like droughts, floods, storms and heat waves, damage to ecosystems such as coral reefs, and melting glaciers and ice sheets.

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.

A rise in temperature above 1.5˚C could lead to:

  1. significant rise in sea levels – potentially displacing tens of millions of people

  2. a dramatic reduction in global food supplies

  3. water shortages affecting hundreds of millions of people

  4. increased risk of extinction for up to 30% of the world’s species

If temperatures are forced even higher by continued emissions, scientists are concerned that climate change could become irreversible, threatening the planet’s basic systems for supporting life.

But we have the solutions

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.

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Climate change is the biggest issue facing the planet. People, species, and our precious environment are all at risk.

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.

But we know the solutions. Together, a 100% renewable energy future is 100% possible. The transition is already underway.

 

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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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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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