Government announces Interim Climate Change Committee

The Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, has announced the membership of the Interim Climate Change Committee, which will begin work on how New Zealand transitions to a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

Work must start now on how sectors like agriculture might enter into the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS), he said.

And planning must begin now for the transition to 100 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2035.

The Interim Climate Change Committee will undertake this work until the independent Climate Change Commission is established under the Zero Carbon Act in May next year.

The Interim Committee will consult with stakeholders and hand over its work and analysis to the commission, he said.

Mr Shaw said committee members have been chosen because of their expertise across key areas related to climate change: agriculture, agribusiness, climate change science and policy, resource economics and impacts, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, te reo me ona tikanga Māori and Māori interests, international competitiveness, and energy production and supply.

Dr David Prentice, the Interim Committee Chair, was most recently the managing director of infrastructure firm Opus International Consultants.

He led his company through the Global Financial Crisis and has a sound understanding of economics and international markets.

Lisa Tumahai, the Deputy Chair, has significant governance experience and is Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. She is a person of significant mana and standing in the Māori community.

The other committee members are:

  • Dr Harry Clark, a New Zealand expert on agricultural greenhouse gas research;
  • Dr Keith Turner, former CEO of Meridian and professional director;
  • Dr Jan Wright, former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment;
  • Dr Suzi Kerr, an internationally renowned expert in the economics of climate change policy and emissions trading.

Source: Minister for Climate Change



Climate change: council report foresees greater risk of drought and floods in Southland

The report, Protecting our Communities, is part of the council’s long-term plan and is the subject of a Radio New Zealand report (HERE)

It says:

“The projected impacts of climate change mean an increased variability in emergencies over a shorter time – droughts to storms,” the report said.

“This may increase the overall risk to the community and may test the ability of people to be well-prepared, and increase risks to economic productivity.

“A large number of Southland’s population live on flood plains and despite the extensive flood mitigation work, flooding remains a significant risk.

“Rising sea levels provide a challenge for coastal communities. As this issue will affect several communities across local authority boundaries, the Southland Mayoral Forum will take responsibility to investigate the issues and response, and discuss with the community.”

The data suggested temperatures in Southland would increase by 1°C by 2040 and 2°C by 2090, with more turbulent weather resulting.

“A warmer atmosphere can hold about 8 percent more moisture for every 1°C increase in temperature,” the report said.

“Rainfall is projected to rise and heavy rainfall events are likely to become heavier and more frequent. Strong winds are also predicted to increase. Should these predictions play out, Southland would be exposed to an increased likelihood of natural hazards such as flooding and drought.”

The predicted changes would also result in a decrease in snowfall and a higher snowline which would have an impact on riverflows in the region and likely lead to larger winter floods.


Experts comment on study showing hotter and longer marine heatwaves over the past century

Marine “heatwaves” like those which stoked New Zealand’s record-hot summer have become longer, stronger and more frequent over the past century, especially in the past four decades, the New Zealand Herald reports (HERE).

With more than 90 per cent of the heat caused by global warming going into our oceans, the scientists behind a new international study say the trend will only continue.

The study is published today in Nature Communications.

The New Zealand Herald’s science writer, Jamie Morton, explains that marine heatwaves happen when sea surface temperatures (SSTs) rise as a result of stronger-than-normal warm ocean currents, or from being forced by the atmosphere.

In the case of summer’s Tasman Sea marine heatwave, it was a case of the latter.

It was a freak combination of persistent highs, a La Nina climate system in the tropics and a positive Southern Annular Mode pattern to our south, all set against a background of climate change.

Over what was our hottest summer ever observed, SSTs around New Zealand climbed to at least 1.5C above average – and in some spots off the West Coast rose as high as 6C above average.

While its effects made for balmy surf at our favourite beaches, it also melted ice caps, pushed warm water fish south and had a big effect on growing conditions in orchards and vineyards.

Continue reading

Urban sprawl and climate change make NZ more inviting for nastier mosquitoes

Urban sprawl and development combined with climate change mean New Zealand is troubled by more foreign, disease-carrying mosquitoes, the New Zealand Herald reports.  

It cites a University of Canterbury study which looked at how mosquito numbers and species might change as the planet warmed – and how shifts in land use could affect the picture.

Biosecurity officials recently found exotic culex mosquitoes – known to carry the feared Ross River virus – in the Kaipara Harbour this month, the newspaper noted.

The researchers specifically investigated how mosquitoes were affected by differences in land cover and climate.

“We looked at two species that are commonly found here in New Zealand and which people are probably familiar with as they are trying to get to sleep: Culex pervigilans, which is a native mosquito, and Aedes notoscriptus, a stripy-legged Australian invader,” study author Sophie Hunt said.

Mosquitoes spend the early stages of their life cycles in standing water habitats, such as ponds, puddles and water containers.

The researchers found that climate and land use affected both how suitable mosquito habitats were, and how many of them there were in place.

Warmer habitats made mosquitoes and the other insects living in the water eat more, faster, and go through their life cycles faster.

“At the same time, warmer water means the predators also eat more, faster,” said Ms Hunt, who collaborated on the study with Canterbury colleagues Dr Mark Galatowitsch and Professor Angus McIntosh.

“We found that different mosquito species react slightly differently to the change in temperature, and to predation.”

The effects were more pronounced when land use was taken into account.

“There are more, smaller, warmer habitats available in human-modified environments, and these are also less likely to contain other insects that might be predators of mosquitoes.”

As we changed the land and our climate, many foreign species were on the rise and many native ones were declining.

Some of the new species, such as mosquitoes, may bring disease.

But Ms Hunt says people have an element of control and can create habitats that support predatory insects which act as natural biocontrols against mosquitoes.

“And not all mosquitoes are bad – most of the New Zealand native ones don’t even bite humans, and they can act as pollinators.”

New Zealand is home to 15 mosquito species, 12 of which aren’t found anywhere else in the world.

Several new species have become permanently established here, dozens more have been stopped at our ports, and one has been eradicated.

Sophie Hunt completed her MSc in 2015. Her research focused on investigating effects of interacting global change drivers on native and exotic mosquito distributions.

The New Zealand Herald report is based on a University of Canterbury press statement (HERE).


Royal Society video: mitigating climate change with Professor Jim Skea

Committee on Climate Change portraits - 24/9/08.
 Professor Jim Skea

The Royal Society Te Apārangi has posted this video for those who didn’t make it to the public lecture by Professor Jim Skea in Wellington on March 21, “Climate change: stormy weather ahead”.  

Professor Skea, Chair of Sustainable Energy at Imperial College London and Co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III, presented the lecture at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand’s Soundings Theatre.

Professor Skea was on his way to Christchurch for a meeting for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land, one of three Special Reports the panel will publish in the next two years.

In this talk, he discusses what we know about climate change (from the IPCC’s fifth Assessment Report), how the Paris Agreement is lifting ambition, the new questions being posed for the IPCC sixth Assessment cycle, carbon targets and budgets in the UK, plus his  own thoughts on the Zero Carbon bill.

The facilitator was Ralph Sims, Professor of Sustainable Energy at Massey University and chair of the Royal Society Te Apārangi panel that produced Climate Change Mitigation Options for New Zealand in 2016.

Promoting the lecture, the Royal Society noted that New Zealand had just recorded the hottest January on record and experienced severe weather events causing flood and coastal damage throughout the country.

The society also noted that the United States plan to cease participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement raised the question of whether the rest of the world would be able to manage the responsibility of mitigating climate change without the world’s largest economy.

Source:  Royal Society Te Apārangi

Land use and climate change: panel discussion on pressures and possibilities

Land use patterns in New Zealand reflect the influence of a range of factors including climate, soils, landform, biodiversity, ownership, culture and economics.

But how will land use be affected by rapid climate change, driven by human-induced global warming, here and around the globe.

Veronika Meduna, NZ editor of The Conversation, will delve into the issues with a panel of international contributors in Christchurch on March 28.

Panel members have expertise in global food security, sustainable resource management, renewable energy, sustainable development, and economics relating to climate change.

The event will be opened by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group III co-chairs Professor Jim Skea (UK) and Dr Youba Sokona (Mali), who are attending the IPCC lead authors’ meeting on Land Use and Climate Change in Christchurch.


* Professor Tim Benton (UK) – Professor and Dean of Strategic Research Initiatives at the University of Leeds and Distinguished Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, London. Formerly the Champion of the UK’s Global Food Security programme.

*Professor Annette Cowie (Australia) – Principal Research Scientist – Climate, NSW Department of Primary Industries.  Research experience includes sustainability assessment and greenhouse gas accounting in agriculture and forestry; investigating key aspects of soil carbon dynamics; life cycle assessment of forestry, bioenergy and biochar systems.

* Dr Fatima Denton (Ethiopia) – Head of the African Climate Policy Centre, Director of the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s Special Initiatives Division. In 2016 she was nominated by the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, as one of the Women Leaders Driving Agricultural Transformation in Africa.

* Dr Anita Wreford (NZ) – Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit, Lincoln University (NZ). Applied economist specialising in responses to climate change, Anita is a lead author for the IPCC Working Group III.

This event is being hosted by the University of Canterbury in partnership with the IPCC, the Ministry for the Environment, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, The New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and Royal Society Te Apārangi.


The Piano, Philip Carter Family Concert Hall
156 Armagh St

7-8.30pm pm Wednesday 28 March, 2018.

Source: Royal Society Te Aparangi.

Submissions are called for on international climate change guidelines

The Government is inviting input as it sets the priorities for New Zealand at international climate change negotiations.

Agriculture is among the areas on which New Zealand has focused.

In Paris in 2015, 174 countries plus the European Union committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

At the end of this year (2-14 December), international negotiators will meet in Katowice, Poland, for the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The purpose of COP24 is to work out the guidelines for how countries work together to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

From today, New Zealanders are invited to have their say on what they think New Zealand’s stance on those guidelines should be.

“Tackling climate change is the greatest environmental challenge of our time,” says the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw.


“I’ve been clear that New Zealand will show leadership on climate change on the world stage, which is why we want to refresh our approach to international climate negotiations, and to hear from you about what you think is important in those negotiations.


“We need to lead by example at home and we also need to be clear about what we’re working towards at the international negotiating table.”

Having signed up to the Paris Agreement, the next step is to agree on guidance for countries as they go about implementing their national contributions to reducing greenhouse gases and limiting temperature rise, and that is what will happen in Katowice in December, Mr Shaw says.

“There are a number of areas New Zealand has focused on already, including transparency, effective mitigation, integrity of carbon markets, agriculture, as well as gender and indigenous people’s issues,” he says.

Public submissions can be made by clicking here for more details.

Submissions are due by 3 April.

Source: Minister for Climate Change