When did world action on climate change start?
The global response to climate change began in !992 when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the world’s first environmental treaty, was signed by 154 nations and the UN secretariat was charged facilitating actions to bridge the gap between ambition and achievement. Upon ratification, this treaty committed the signatory countries to reducing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in order to "prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with Earth's climate system"
What is the Kyoto Protocol?
The Kyoto protocol, established in 1992, delivered the first binding emission reduction targets for the developed world.The first commitment period under this protocol; was 2008–2012. In this period, 42 industrialized countries pledged to reduce their emissions by an average of just over 5% compared with 1990 levels with the UNFCC reporting that an emissions reduction of 22.6% was achieved in commitment period 1. The protocol was amended for the second commitment period 2013-2020 and 37 Countries took targets in commitment period two. The United States did not ratify Kyoto at all , Canada withdrew in 2012 and a number of countries including New Zealand did not agree to targets in the second commitment period. Commitment period two had not come into force when the Paris Accord was signed in2015.
What is the Paris Accord?
The Paris Accord is the world's first universal action plan to tackle climate change by limiting global warming to ‘well below 2°C’. This was passed at the Paris climate conference in December 2015 by 195 nations and since then, x countries have ratified this agreement and lodged their commitments, known as national climate action plans (INDC’s)
What did countries agree to when they signed the Paris Accord?
They agreed to
- a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels;
- to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change;
- on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries;
- to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science.
They also agreed in terms of:
Transparency and global stocktake to:
- come together every 5 years to set more ambitious targets as required by science;
- report to each other and the public on how well they are doing to implement their targets;
- track progress towards the long-term goal through a robust transparency and accountability system.
On adaption to:
- strengthen societies' ability to deal with the impacts of climate change;
- provide continued and enhanced international support for adaptation to developing countries.
On Loss and damage to:
- recognise the importance of averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change;
- acknowledge the need to cooperate and enhance the understanding, action and support in different areas such as early warning systems, emergency preparedness and risk insurance.
What commitment has New Zealand made under the Paris Accord?
New Zealand has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. This responsibility target is economy-wide covering all sectors:
- Industrial processes and product use
- Forestry and other land use
and all greenhouse gases.
Why are we worrying about this?
The science is widely accepted that human activities, such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels, have caused global temperatures to rise. As a result, we are now seeing the effects of these changing temperatures; sea levels are rising putting low lying island countries at risk, there are more frequent and severe droughts and super storms and one in six of the earths species are now threatened.
In New Zealand, we are seeing the impact of climate change in different weather patterns, warmer sea temperatures and the migration of some species.
What is the New Zealand ETS?
The New Zealand Government’s main tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is ihe Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) .
Its stated objective is to support and encourage efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by:
- assisting New Zealand to meet its international obligations
- reducing New Zealand’s net emissions below business as usual levels.
The NZ ETS operates by putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions. This price on emissions creates a financial incentive for those who emit greenhouse gases to invest in technologies and practices that reduce emissions. It also encourages forest planting by allowing eligible foresters to earn New Zealand emission units (NZUs) as their trees grow and absorb carbon dioxide.
Are we doing our fair share?
According to climate action tracker, an independent scientific analysis consortium comprising New Climate Institute, Ecofys and Climate analytics; New Zealand’s contribution is insufficient and will not lead to holding global warming below 2O.and we are instead consistent with holding warming between 2°C and 3°C. This means we will continue to experience the impacts of climate change such as, droughts, super storms, sea level rise and