This is possibly the most important blog post I’ll write all year.
I’m often asked “what can I do that will actually make a difference to climate change?” Sometimes that question is followed up by “that won’t cost me anything,” and “ideally I wouldn’t have to change anything.” While I’m happy to offer advice on the first question it’s typically a bit more challenging to answer with the latter two in mind.
I’m happy to report there IS something you can do that will make a difference. It won’t cost you a cent. You don’t have to change anything. It’ll take you less than 20 minutes. You can do it sitting at the computer. And you can get it out of the way this week.
On the 7th of May NZ’s Climate Change Issues Minister, Hon Tim Groser, called for public submissions on New Zealand‘s post
2020 climate change target. The Ministry for the Environment issued a Discussion Document stating “The Government is seeking views on New Zealand’s post-2020 climate change contribution under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This discussion document provides information about the issues and trade-offs involved in setting our contribution and explains how to have your say.”
This is the first time in six years the NZ public have been invited by the Government to consult on climate change.
Well, in November-December of this year there is a hugely important climate change meeting in Paris: the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), otherwise known as “Paris 2015” that 196 countries/states will be coming together in order to
“achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C”
Side note: If you’re interested in reading the authoritative voice on why keeping global warming below 2°C is important you can check out the IPCC synthesis report. It’s a tough read (in more ways than one), but it’s the real deal. You’ll see how great the challenge is to keep global warming below 2°C and how ambitious our goals are going to have to be to achieve it.
Back to why now…
All 196 countries/states that have ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including NZ, are obliged to release what they intend to do towards keeping global warming below 2°C beyond 2020. These intentions are called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The New Zealand Government are planning to submit NZ’s intentions in August of this year, and are seeking public input for their formal proposal.
The World Resource Institute outlines (and I’m paraphrasing hard here to keep things succinct) “A good INDC should be ambitious..transparent… and equitable.” They go on to say “An INDC should also articulate how the country is integrating climate change into other national priorities, such as sustainable development and poverty reduction, and send signals to the private sector to contribute to these efforts.”
Okay. Then what?
These intentions will form a new international agreement and according to the World Resource Institute
So, back to the task at hand.
Where do I come into all this?
We (read: you) have a rare (and very easy) opportunity to let our Government know what the scale of our contribution should be towards this global issue by completing an online submission. I know that you care about this. You’re reading a blog post about it.
Like me, this might be your first submission to the government on any given issue. I can assure you the process is painless, heck even straight forward. So straight forward I’ve been able to summarise it in three steps below.
This is how I recommend you could undertake the submission process:
- Read the discussion document here
This is what our Government believes is appropriate for NZ.
Consider reading what others have to say on our (NZ’s) contribution and other countries too. Suggested reading below.
My advice, don’t read this document at face value, apply a critical eye to it – is it ambitious enough?
- Complete the six questions on the online submission page here before 5.00pm, Wednesday 3 June 2015.
If you’re not feeling confident about what you think you should say, check out the “Help with your submission” section below.
- Share this process with (at least) one other person you know would like to have a say.
Easiest way is to share via Facebook
- You can check out what other countries have already committed here (including the USA and the EU). < This is a great website by the way. Big points from me on clearly communicating complex and dense information!
- What NZ committed to in 2013 with UNFCC, check this out (if it doesn’t take you directly to NZ’s page, click on the map).
You can even see the signed letter Hon Tim Groser sent in 2013.
- How NZ is tracking based on the (above) commitments compared to other countries (note: we’re behind China and the USA) <As a NZer I find this an embarrassing read.
- Generation Zero:
A zero carbon target for New Zealand
Government vague on climate targets
Public asked to submit on Govt emissions targets
- Radio NZ:
Feds welcome climate change consultation
Climate change target ‘moral not economic question’
- A short video provided by the Ministry of the Environment on the consultation process ahead of COP21.
Help with your submission
Onboard and ready to go, just don’t know what to say?
The following organisations have setup some great tools to assist with your submission (or just submit directly from their websites).
They’ve provided template answers to the questions posed. These are a great place to start, you can copy and paste them and adapt them to your personal point of view. Check them out.
Generation Zero – Fix Our Future
Greens – Get Loud
… and there are probably others…
Don’t forget the World Resource Institute calls for ambitious, transparent and equitable contributions. If nothing more, ask the government to ensure their contribution is all of those things. (That is a powerful one-liner to submit!)
Alternatively drop me a line, give me a call, buy me a glass of wine, or skype in for a chat about it. You know I’d love to talk about this stuff whether we’re on the same page or not!
I’ve definitely got some opinions on what is presented in the Discussion Document and am happy to share (just didn’t to muddy the waters here!).
Please. Take this easy and free (!) opportunity to show our Government that the citizens they represent think minimising the effects of climate change both now and in the future is important.
Otherwise, how else will the Government know?