The solution is to cut greenhouse gas emissions and commit to a zero carbon future.
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. Most of the technology needed for this low-carbon future already exists now.
Thing is, this transition 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.
To get to a 100% renewable energy New Zealand by 2050, we need to start now. We need to make urgent changes, like:
meeting humanity’s energy needs from sustainable sources (such as solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels) not fossil fuels
using energy efficiently
stopping carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation
living within the planet’s means
What is needed is action to encourage the adoption of this technology by governments, industries and businesses, other organisations, and individuals.
WWF works with New Zealanders from all walks of life, along with businesses and community groups, to call for real climate action now. Together, it's 100% possible to put New Zealand on the path to a 100% renewable future.
The most effective thing you can do is use your influence. Only strong leadership from policy-makers can set New Zealand on a path to reducing emissions. The scale of change needed requires action at the top.
The most effective action New Zealanders can take is to use their influence to encourage government to put the right policies in place, and make good on international obligations.
At the United Nations climate talks in Paris in December 2015, governments acknowledged the growing threat of climate change and agreed to work towards keeping warming to 1.5°C.
Almost every country in the world has taken on emissions reduction targets under the Paris Agreement. The global shift to a clean energy future has begun.
But the job's not done yet. If every country does only what it has pledged to date, we are on track for between 2.7°C and 3.5°C of warming. If our governments don't step it up, we'll lose the chance to limit warming to 2°C - let alone 1.5°C - by the mid-2030s.
Fortunately, the Paris Agreement includes a five yearly review process. In 2018, the United Nations will take stock of every country's target. Where will New Zealand's stand?
Aotearoa New Zealand needs to do its fair share to reduce emissions at home. It's 100% possible for our country to get to 100% renewable energy with net zero carbon emissions by 2050 - and that's what doing our fair share requires.
The problem is, greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand have increased by over 25% since 1990. Current action by government won’t deliver the significant reductions we need. We have pledged to reduce our emissions by only 11% by 2030.
International scientists have described New Zealand's 11% target as "inadequate". Other governments, including traditional allies, have spoken out calling for more action from New Zealand.
The global shift to a 100% renewable clean energy future is already underway. Smart countries and businesses all over the world are acting now to secure the benefits of an early transition for their people, economies, and bottom-lines. Others are lagging behind, and suffering the costs.
We don't want Aotearoa New Zealand to lag behind. As well as meeting our moral obligation to the world, and helping to reducing the potential threats from climate change such a sea-level rise, there are huge benefits to New Zealand from taking action to reduce carbon emissions, like:
securing our domestic energy supply through renewables and bio-energy
enabling a more sustainable economy and new jobs through growth in ‘green technology’ industries
ensuring our export products are competitive in a global market that is increasingly carbon-aware
reinforcing our ‘clean, green’ reputation, supporting existing industries such as agriculture and tourism that rely that brand
health improvements from lower air pollution and warmer and drier homes, and increased fitness from walking and cycling
social justice and equity by protecting the vulnerable from rising fossil fuel, energy and food prices
New Zealand is unique among industrialised countries: half of all our greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. We have a population of 4.5 million people, but we feed over 45 million people.
So it's crucial that New Zealand forges a path to sustainable agriculture. We can't let people with a vested interest in the fossil fuel economy pit climate action against farming. Instead, we need to take a lead on sustainable farming.
Climate change is bigger than politics. It matters to people from all walks of life, in all countries - and all countries need to be taking action.
Some lobby groups have argued that New Zealand should receive special treatment in global climate change negotiations.
WWF disagrees. Every country can claim that it faces special circumstances. Some have economies that rely on heavy manufacturing or extractive industries. Some have limited access to technology. New Zealand, on the other hand, has significant advantages in its great renewable energy potential including wind and bio-energy.
Like other industrialised nations, we have supported our living standards for decades by using fossil fuels and growing our carbon emissions and we should do our fair share to reduce them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.