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Climate change in New Zealand - statistics & facts

Climate change has emerged as one of the biggest environment challenges facing New Zealand in recent times. Higher temperatures, increased flooding frequency, increased water resource demand, sea level rise, and loss of biodiversity are just a few of the negative consequences of changing global climate patterns. The impact, if not mitigated, will also likely lead to significant economic consequences. Many industries will likely be affected, including those which the country relies on for economic prosperity.

New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions

Despite signing the Paris Climate Agreement, a global agreement setting future emissions targets to mitigate climate change, New Zealand’s gross greenhouse gas emissions have not yet decreased significantly. However, the country has recently introduced the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill to support the implementation of effective climate change policies.

The agriculture industry is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the country. Significant quantities of methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide are generated from livestock farming and horticulture. Research into how to reduce these emissions while maintaining integrity in the country’s farming practices is continually being done.

Consumer sentiment towards climate change

In general, New Zealanders are supportive of mitigation measures to combat climate change. In a recent survey conducted in the country, almost 80 percent of the respondents believed climate change was an important issue in New Zealand. In the same study, most of the respondents believed that climate change would lead to more extreme and frequent environmental events such as flooding, drought, and heatwaves. On an individual level, New Zealanders are consuming products more mindfully. For example, consumers are eating less meat on average compared to a decade ago, citing price, health issues, as well as sustainability concerns as reasons for this change.

Will a shift towards renewable energy help reach emissions targets?

Electricity generated through the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, generate greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The country has seen a shift to using more renewable energy sources to meet its electricity demand. Transitioning to clean energy sources, such as hydro, geothermal, and wind energy, will contribute to New Zealand’s emissions reductions in the coming years.

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