Climate Change

What is climate change?

Our planet’s atmosphere is made up of oxygen, nitrogen, and a small percentage of greenhouse gases (GHGs), like carbon dioxide and methane. GHGs work to trap warmth from the sun. Without them, too much heat would escape, and the surface of the planet would freeze. However, increasing the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere causes the Earth to heat more and the climate to change.

Earth’s climate has changed throughout history, but now the planet is experiencing a warming trend that is a result of our human activity since the mid-20th century (anthropogenic causes). The warming trend is happening faster than has been seen in recent history. This is what we call climate change.

Climate change represents one of the greatest risks to our communities, biodiversity, economy and the life-supporting capacity of our planet. The effects of climate change are being felt across the country. Here in Te Tai Tokerau, Northland and in Kaipara District our communities are already experiencing real changes. The future physical impacts of climate change are likely to be significant and wide-ranging, and will affect our diverse communities, industries and natural environments differently.

What does climate change mean for Kaipara?

Important to note that these are general timeframes and rely on multiple different projections. Technical reports on climate can be found via the Kaipara Kai work, or read the NIWA Climate Report

Projected impacts summary

  • Increased risk of river flooding 
  • Increased risk of drought 
  • Increased risk extreme winds  
  • Increased risk of landslides and soil erosion 
  • Increased risk of marine heatwaves & pH and nutrient changes in marine waters 
  • Increased risk of coastal flooding and inundation and coastal erosion 
  • Increased risk of groundwater salinisation and reduced drainage capacity

Rainfall

  • 16-22 fewer wet days by 2090. 
  • Slight variations in annual rainfall changes (around 2%), with increases projected in Autumn and decreases for Winter and Spring.  
  • Increase in severity of rainfall events (more intense short duration rainfall events). By 2090, the depth of a current 1 in 100-year, 1-hour duration rainfall event is projected to increase by approximately 35%. 

Sea Level Rise

How fast sea levels rise depends on how much and how quickly we can reduce our emissions across the planet. The sea level rise (SLR) projections below show what is likely to happen if we continue emitting as usual. In climate change science, this scenario is called RCP8.5. It is sometimes referred to as ‘business as usual’ scenario or ‘worse case’ scenario.  
 
.3m SLR by 2045 - 2060
.6m SLR by 2070 - 2085 
.9m SLR by 2090 - 2110 
1.2m SLR by 2110 - 2130 
1.5m SLR by 2130 - 2160 

Temperature

  • Increase in temperature of 0.5-1.5°C by 2040, and 1.0-3.5°C by 2090 
  • Increase in number of hot days and heatwave days by 60-80 days by 2090. Increase in number of dry days through the district. Drought potential is projected to increase.  

Climate change mitigation and adaptation

Climate change work is generally broken down into mitigation actions and adaptation actions.

Mitigation action is any human intervention that reduces the sources of greenhouse gases [GHGs] or enhance the sinks of GHGs. New Zealand has signed the Paris Declaration and passed the Climate Change Response Amendment Act 2019 [Zero Carbon Bill] that commits the country to net zero emissions [except biogenic methane] by 2050.

Adaptation action is grounded in evidence that, regardless of what happens with emissions today and in the future, we are locked into 1.5°C warming and connected changes. This is due to our past global emissions. Through adaptation, we seek to moderate or avoid harm or make the most of beneficial opportunities.

The ways the projected changes and increased natural hazard risks will affect our communities and our livelihoods will depend on when and how we decide to adapt and mitigate further emissions.

What are we doing about climate change?

The Kaipara Ki Tua: Climate Smart Strategic Framework guides and brings together a climate change work programme, approved by Kaipara District Council on 27 October this year. 

The document introduces climate change as an issue, establishes a series of goals and principles, and summarises the work programme’s key outputs, timeframes, and engagement initiatives. 

Kaipara Ki Tua assists Council to communicate our climate change work with stakeholders, interested parties, Mana Whenua Partners, and the wider Kaipara community.  

Most of the document covers the climate change work programme established and consulted on through the Council’s 2021 Long Term Plan. 

The proposed goals and principles, presented to Council at the August Briefing, are designed to support and underpin this work.  

Reducing emissions

In September 2021 Council adopted two greenhouse gas emissions targets for the organisation:

  1. Reduce Council’s organisational emissions by 30% by 2031 (compared to 2018-2019 baseline),
  2. Achieve net zero Council emissions by 2050.

The 2031 target is an interim target to ensure action and ensure Council is on track to net zero by 2050.

Each year, Council measures the GHG emissions produced through our activities and services to show how we are tracking with reducing our emissions:

Each year, Council measures the GHG emissions produced through our activities and services to show how we are tracking with reducing our emissions:

Adaptation actions

Council is a participating member in Climate Adaptation Te Taitokerau (CATT) joint council collaboration.  

  • CATT is in the process of conducting a Risk Assessment and forming a Te Taitokerau Adaptation Strategy. 
  • In collaboration with NRC, Council is currently updating and expanding natural hazards mapping and modelling for Kaipara District.

Mitigation actions

  • Council is in the process of a GHG emissions inventory and will publish a Corporate and District GHG Footprint this year. We aim to begin annual reporting on our emissions in 2020.  
  • We have increased energy efficiencies and reduced energy consumption through LED lights projects and solar speed signs.  
  • We have a Waste Minimisation Plan and are reviewing an updated Waste Minimisation Plan. 

What can I do about climate change? 

We all have a part to play. Check out Ministry for the Environment “What you can do about Climate Change” to get some ideas. If you’re a farmer, check out opportunities through AgResearch or NRC.

Find out your footprint and reduce your emissions

Learn where your greenhouse gas emissions are coming from
Global Footprint Network   
Ekos Lifestyle Calculator 

The Ministry for the Environment recently released a guide to help New Zealand businesses offset their emissions properly 

Learn more about climate change