Although a small contributor to the global greenhouse effect (0.2%), New Zealand’s emissions of greenhouse gases per capita (17,2 tons) places us in the top countries, nearly twice as bad as the UK! To prevent catastrophic climate change, we *should* emit less than one ton per person and per year.
It’s a huge responsibility and also a huge opportunity.
Half of New Zealand’s emissions of greenhouse gases depends on how we choose to use our land. Originally covered by forests by 80% only 30% is left today with more than 50% used as farmland. So trees today only manage to absorb about 30% of CO2 emissions. A lot of farmland is used for ruminants who belch out methane, a gas 25 times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Something will have to be done there.
The 86% of us who live in urban settings contribute to the other half of emissions of greenhouse gases. A third of energy production is from non-renewable sources and we use too much energy anyway because of our poorly insulated homes. Also we consume a lot and making things creates lots of CO2, as well as waste and pollution. We also drive in cars too much and our air travel increase is a worrying trend. One return flight to Europe adds 10 tons per capita and per passenger…
These are things we can work on. We can choose better energy, save it and improve our homes. We can be thoughtful when we buy things and when we hop in our cars.
We’ll help you figure out what is easily done, what will make a big difference in your case, how much it will cost you and save over time. We’ll help you feel good about yourself and how you tackle your responsibility towards future generations and the Earth.
Source: Carbon Neutral by 2020: How New Zealanders can tackle climate change. Edited by Niki Harre and Quentin D. Atkinson. Nelson: Craig Potton, 2007.