A new community group is hoping to make Kerikeri New Zealand's first carbon-neutral town.
Carbon Neutral Kerikeri hopes to encourage people in the Bay of Islands town to start measuring, and taking responsibility for reducing, their households' carbon emissions.
Spokesman Rolf Mueller-Glodde said Kiwis were bombarded with dire warnings about the consequences of man-made climate change, but they heard little about what they could do as individuals to combat it.
To rectify that the group was publishing practical advice about ways households could reduce their carbon footprint.
It had also created an online calculator which allowed users to work out their household emissions and the level of sequestration — long-term carbon capture and storage — that resulted from things such as trees growing on their properties. They could then use the calculator to see how their net emissions were changing over time.
The trust would use those measurements to calculate a total carbon baseline for Kerikeri and update it once a year.
If Kerikeri residents reduced their net emissions by 10 per cent a year within a decade it could be New Zealand's first carbon-neutral town, Mueller-Glodde said.
The group's co-founder, Inge Bremer, said if just 20 per cent of Kerikeri households registered, that would be enough to estimate the town's total emissions.
The real point, however, was to empower people by showing them they could make a difference.
The calculator had been developed in conjunction with a similar group on Waiheke Island. Together the two groups made up the Carbon Neutral NZ Trust.
The calculator was the first to use specifically New Zealand data and the first to include sequestration as well as emissions. Users enter details such as the number and size of trees on their property, power use, rubbish, driving, flights and even what they eat.
Mueller-Glodde said the project was inspired by a public talk last year by climate expert James Renwick. While looking into what Kerikeri could do to reduce its contribution to climate change he discovered a dearth of practical tools and information useful for the average New Zealander.
It also highlighted widespread apathy about a problem many saw as unlikely to have much effect in their own lifetimes.
''Unfortunately, what each of us does today directly impacts on the future our children and grandchildren will inherit. Time is rapidly running out.''
■ Carbon Neutral Kerikeri will be launched at 7pm on November 22 in the St John Hall at 357 Kerikeri Rd. Go to www.carbonneutraltrust.org.nz to try out the calculator, which works for any location in New Zealand, or read up on carbon-reduction advice.