Relocating farmland could turn back clock 20 years on carbon emissions, scientists say

Scientists have produced a map showing where the world’s major food crops should be grown to maximise yield and minimise environmental impact. This would capture large amounts of carbon, increase biodiversity, and cut agricultural use of freshwater to zero.

The reimagined world map of agriculture includes large new farming areas for many major crops around the cornbelt in the mid-western US, and below the Sahara desert. Huge areas of farmland in Europe and India would be restored to natural habitat.

The redesign — assuming high-input, mechanised farming — would cut the carbon impact of global croplands by 71%, by allowing land to revert to its natural, forested state. This is the equivalent of capturing twenty years’ worth of our current net CO2 emissions. Trees capture carbon as they grow, and also enable more carbon to be captured by the soil than when crops are grown in it. Continue reading

Climate change: a threat to human wellbeing and health of the planet

Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks.

People and ecosystems least able to cope are being hardest hit, said scientists in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released this week.

“This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

“It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”

The world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C (2.7°F). Even temporarily exceeding this warming level will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible. Continue reading

IPCC begins process to approve report on impacts of climate change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has opened the virtual meeting to approve the Working Group II report: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.

The report, which focuses on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability to climate change, includes a chapter specifically on Australia and New Zealand.

The session began on 14 February and the final report is expected on 28 February.

The report, a second instalment of the Sixth Assessment Report, integrates more strongly natural, social and economic sciences, highlighting the role of social justice and diverse forms of knowledge such as indigenous and local knowledge. It also reflects the increasing importance of urgent and immediate action to address climate risks.

It brings more knowledge at local and regional levels and linkages between biodiversity and climate change.

The report prepared by IPCC’s Working Group II will build on the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report released in August 2021 that showed climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying. Continue reading

Key crops face major shifts in response to global warming

The BBC has reported the results of a new study which finds the parts of the world suitable for growing coffee, cashews and avocados will change dramatically as the world heats up.

On the other hand, New Zealand is among the countries where growing areas will become more suitable for coffee.

The research has been published in the journal Plos One.

Key coffee regions in Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam and Colombia will all “drastically decrease” by around 50 per cent by 2050.

Suitable areas for cashews and avocados will increase but most will be far from current sites of production.

The authors say that greater efforts must be made to help farmers adapt. Continue reading

Rain, rain go away, researchers find you are bad for the economy

Increases in the number of wet days which a region experiences may lead to a reduction in economic growth, a new global study suggests.

Leonie Wenz and colleagues combined data on daily rainfall with subnational economic output for 1,544 regions across 77 countries over the past 40 years to model the impact of rainfall change on economic growth.

They found that an increase in the number of wet days or extreme daily rainfall — the annual total of rain on days that exceed the 99.9th percentile of the distribution of daily rainfall between 1979–2019 — leads to a reduction in economic growth.

In Australia, the study showed the Northern Territory and the whole of the east coast had historically shown the greatest drop in economic growth rates when the number of wet days was higher.

Rich countries appeared more sensitive to daily rainfall which the authors say may be due to their smaller dependence on agriculture and greater dependence on services.

The findings highlight the potential negative impact that human-induced climate change could have on the global economy.

Changes in the Earth’s hydrological cycle are anticipated as a result of anthropogenic climate change.

Water availability affects agricultural productivity, labour outcomes and conflict, and flash flooding can cause damage and impact economic output.

But rainfall changes are difficult to model or are assessed on a single country basis, making it difficult to estimate the global economic cost of rainfall induced by climate change.

The researchers suggest that higher-income nations and the service and manufacturing sectors are most strongly hindered by increases in daily rainfall.

Their analysis also indicates that droughts that differ from historical monthly means may lead to economic losses.

They argue that their findings demonstrate that our previous understanding of the economic effects of rainfall changes was incomplete. They conclude that further research is needed to quantify the impacts of future changes in rainfall on economic growth.

Source:  Scimex

High-tech investment extends drought forecasting for farmers and growers

The Government is investing in the development of a new forecasting tool that makes full use of innovative climate modelling to help farmers and growers prepare for dry conditions.

The new approach will cost $200,000, jointly funded through the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

It will provide daily drought forecasts out to 35 days. Later, the project will also explore drought predictions up to six months ahead. NIWA currently provides seasonal climate outlooks each month that look three months ahead, but are not drought specific.

“We are harnessing the latest in climate and data science to put information into the hands of the people who can make the best use of it,” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

“Knowing well in advance when dry conditions are heading your way means you can cut your cloth accordingly at critical times on-farm. Having early warning can help determine stocking levels, water storage and feed management options.” Continue reading

Govt increases contribution to global climate target

New Zealand will significantly increase its contribution to the global effort to tackle climate change by reducing net greenhouse emissions by 50 percent by 2030, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced today on the eve of the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow.

Under the Paris Agreement each country adopts an international target known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). This sets out the contribution the country will make towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. The updated NDC announced today is expressed as a target to reduce net emissions by 50 per cent below gross 2005 levels by 2030. This equates to a 41 per cent reduction on 2005 levels using what is known as an ‘emissions budget’ approach.

New Zealand’s new NDC is consistent with the recommendations of the independent Climate Change Commission and will make a significant contribution towards international efforts to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Continue reading

Consultation document opens opportunity to shape NZ’s first Emissions Reduction Plan

The Government today invited New Zealanders to inform the country’s first Emissions Reduction Plan with the release of a consultation document containing a range of policy ideas to decrease the country’s emissions.

The Emissions Reduction Plan will set the direction for climate action through to 2035 prescribing action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across a range of areas, including energy, transport, waste, agriculture, construction and financial services.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said:

 “Over the last four years we have laid the foundations for a prosperous, low-emissions economy with the passing of the Zero Carbon Act and the work of the Climate Commission. Today’s discussion document gives New Zealanders the chance to say what policies they want in order to reach our climate targets.

“Tackling climate change is a job for everyone. Be it school children or business leaders, I hear from a range of New Zealanders about the opportunities a low carbon future offers our country, so I encourage everyone to have their say,” Jacinda Ardern said.

 The Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw, said the discussion document released today is not a draft of the Emissions Reduction Plan. Rather it is an opportunity to hear feedback on what should be included in the plan. Continue reading

World’s first Bachelor of Climate Change launched at University of Waikato

The world’s first Bachelor of Climate Change degree has been launched by the University of Waikato, delivering graduates that will lead future climate change solutions, as New Zealand works to meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050.

The three-year degree is the first of its kind in the world, combining scientific knowledge with understanding of economic, social and political systems and Māori and Pacific responses to climate change.

University of Waikato Dean of Science, Professor Margaret Barbour, says as Aotearoa and the world works towards a target of net zero emissions by 2050, our future depends on how we respond to the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and how we adapt to environmental change. Continue reading

Experts comment on latest international report on climate change – NZ Minister says Govt will be equal to the science

Human-induced climate change is already affecting weather and climate extremes across the globe, according to the latest report from Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The evidence has strengthened – not only in the observed changes in heatwaves, heavy rains, and drought extremes, but also in their attribution to human influence, since the panel’s previous report, published in 2013.

The report has been written by thousands of scientists and reviewers from more than 100 countries, including New Zealand.

The findings provide the starkest warning yet of the risk facing our children, our planet, and future generations, unless urgent action is taken, this country’s Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, said in a statement in response to the report.

The Minister said a collective effort involving every sector of the economy, every community, and almost every government agency and their Minister will be needed to avert a climate crisis.

“Right now, Ministers and agencies are discussing what action they will take to bring down emissions in their sector, which will form the basis of our forthcoming Emission Reduction Plan. We must use this chance to review progress and make sure the actions we are committing to will cut emissions in line with what the latest science requires. Anything less will not be enough.

“The findings of the IPCC reaffirm those of the Climate Change Commission and confirm why this Government is right to prioritise climate action.”  Continue reading