Hate the System? Change the System!

Wish it wasn’t so hard to do the sustainable, climate-friendly thing in everyday life? You’re not alone! NZ’s systems make it much too hard (and much too easy to do the opposite).

But the Zero Carbon Act is a first step towards fixing The System – so it’s easier for us to be better. Tell them your “Yeah!” by 19th July!

“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” – and we’re already staring at the bill for previous generations’ thoughtlessness, in climate change, sea level rise, housing unaffordability, species loss.

– Yet the way we’ve set New Zealand up makes it really hard for us to change and do better.

Unless you’re living with your head in the sand, like us, you’ll want to do the right thing – to live more sustainably, lower our carbon footprint and do our bit to help stop the juggernaut of climate change.

The System, however, is pushing us to not be sustainable – more cars, bigger roads, more roads, suburbs you can’t get around without driving, regions locked into polluting industries – it goes on.

Fed up with it all? This is your chance to change the system!

This is your chance to make it easier for you to do right.

What’s Happening?

Last week, Talk Wellington joined over 200 people at Pipitea Marae to be part of the conversation about climate change and the Zero Carbon Bill. What’s that? Well, it’s a long-term commitment that will transition New Zealand to a low-emission, climate resilient economy by 2050. Crucially, this has cross-party support: National leader Simon Bridges has pledged National’s support to a key tenet of this.

At Pipitea, Minister for Climate Change James Shaw gave an overview of what that could look like – his full speech is downloadable here. In essence the bill sets in law a target for reducing emissions by 2050, lays down stepping stones for how to reach that target, looks at the institutions required to get us there, and makes a plan for adapting to the effects of climate change while minimising the social and economic impact of moving towards a zero carbon future.

Head in the sand

Not Anymore!

There are three targets that the Ministry for the Environment is considering:

Net zero carbon dioxide by 2050 – reducing net carbon dioxide emission in NZ to zero by 2050.

Net zero long-lived gases and stabilised short-lived gases by 2050 – reducing emissions of long-lived gases (carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) in NZ to net zero by 2050 while stabilising emissions of short-lived gases (methane).

Net zero emissions by 2050 – reducing net emissions across all greenhouse gases to zero by 2050.

They want to hear from you which target you want them to aim for.

How awesome is that?! You get to have a say in climate change and what you want the world to look like in the coming 32 years.

“Do nothing” is not an option

We all know that if nothing is done, things are going to get worse. Lots, lots worse – and not just for the poor folk in low-lying Pacific Islands. Us, too, who are relatively lucky.

Check out this lovely pictorial that the Ministry commissioned:

Business as Usual

“If we’re in the middle of the problem we need to be at the centre of the solution.” Janine Smith, Ministry for the Environment, Climate Directorate.

We’re the ones who are at the centre of the solution right now. This bill gives us the opportunity to rock our world, in the best way possible. It will shift the very foundations of our country, if we’re ambitious enough. Yes, it’s a complex topic and will mean we have to do lots of stuff differently, but we’re going to leave a legacy – what do we want that to look like?

Mike Mendonça, Chief Resilience Officer at Wellington City Council, talked about a just and fair framework that has people at its heart. “How do we make that happen?” he asked. “How do we make sure every member of our community thrives?”

Don’t worry, you don’t have to come up with the answers! Just give them a steer

There are loads of smart people working away on the ins and outs – they just need a good steer from us the people. One way is to make sure a good shift happens, with the least harm to people, is to tell them what you think is important as an outcome.

So get in there and write your bit.

Feel like a warmup?

  • Have a play with this really useful tool for shaving down your household emissions. What support would you need to make better choices?
  • Maybe have a ‘submission party’ at your home and brainstorm ideas with friends (thanks to these guys for that idea!).
  • Or get creative and paint, make a video, even try interpretive dance – they said they’ll accept any format.

What are you waiting for?

Follow this link add your voice to the 4000 others who’ve said their piece.

You have until July 19th – get on with it!

You’re on a roll – now here’s some local good for Wellington

And don’t forget to look out for other ways to get engaged.

Transport’s always a good one; it’s the single biggest source of our emissions in this region.

And Wellington-wide, it’s too hard for us to do daily A to B trips without lots of carbon. So let’s help fix the system – show your support for projects that help with that:

Further climate reading:

Image credits:

  • Ministry for the Environment
  • Head in the sand – Ars Technica

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