Climate change is predicted to transform New Zealand, bringing more extreme weather, higher seas and a range of knock-on impacts from elsewhere in the world. As the Government shapes our climate policy for the next three decades, 15 Kiwis from different backgrounds share their perspectives with science reporter Jamie Morton.
I've been a research scientist for the last 10 or 11 years, and in the last decade, I've noticed just how much the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is changing. What was originally thought to be a stable part of the continent is now actually changing on timescales we can observe. And pace of that change is faster than we would have thought.
These days, I think a lot about the world my kids are going to grow up in. One thing that's really hit home for me is what we found in the last study we published, earlier this year.
Ice sheets not only have the ability to change sea level – we've known about that for a while and we can plan for that, to some extent – but the influence of the meltwater going into the ocean can significantly disrupt patterns of ocean circulation and ocean stratification.
That basically means much more variable climate patterns, and is something that's going to have immediate, or at least short-term consequences. It's going to mean societal pressures, with water scarcity, more droughts, and forced migration in some areas.
We are setting up the perfect storm for a lot of global tension and none of us want to see our children grow up in a world where there is a real risk of large-scale warfare – but that is definitely not an unreasonable outlook, unfortunately.
As a scientific community, we are putting a lot of information out there, and I know that some of it is getting through. But it's a question of implementing those policy changes quickly enough. People are making agreements to reduce emissions by 2050, but by 2050, we may have already unleashed the beast.
There are also a lot of leaders who aren't doing anything and are almost going the other way. We are seeing an increase in coal mining permits in Australia, deforestation in Brazil ramping up over 2018 because of the new president, and we are seeing Trump doing all sorts of things that are anti-climate.
In New Zealand, we have a progressive government that are trying to do things, but at the same time, we really want it to happen fast and on a bigger scale.
• Associate Professor Nick Golledge is a glaciologist at Victoria University's Antarctic Research Centre. He was the lead author of a major paper published in the scientific journal Nature this year.
I'm from a tiny island in the southern Fiji group. Climate change definitely does concern me. It affects our water table and the desalination of drinking water. It's a massive thing and it literally changes our whole environment, even the fish that we eat.
I don't think it was something we were aware of when I was growing up, although my family was very much aware of socio-political shifts in the world. Now, as a mother, I think about the future of my child and my nieces and nephews. It does make you feel more impacted, and make you think about the role that we have to play for future generations.
But the issues that are really impressing on the Pacific community here in South Auckland are the ones right in front of our faces. I run a business in Otahuhu and the community that I'm around is literally getting through day by day.
That's even just having enough to take your children to school, or to pay for medicines. We have limited energy resources and these are the sorts of things they go toward at the moment.
• Ema Tavola is a Fijian-born artist and art gallery curator who has lived and worked within South Auckland's creative scene since 2002.
My concerns about climate change have really guided my actions as a citizen. I bike everywhere, I run and or take the train where I can. I have chosen not to fly. Last year, I flew once and this year I haven't flown at all.
It's really impacted on how I bring up my two kids. We plant trees and we spend a lot time talking about it, just those things we can do as a family.
Coming from a Maori philosophy – Ko Papatuanuku to tatou whaea me te matua aroha, or Papatuanuku is mother and loving parent - I feel that we have got a duty to look after her.
But it's hard and it's frustrating. It's frustrating because you make these changes in your personal life, and sometimes when you see society rolling on and flights rolling on and airports being extended, you kind of ask the how much longer should I keep doing what I'm doing, and can I have more of an impact?
Being a doctor, my first responsibility is to my patients. I work in a beautiful community but one that is socio-economically deprived to the extreme.
I know with climate change, there is going to be increased flooding, and the downpours are going to be four times what they were in 2010. Sea level rise is going to impact on parts of the Hutt Valley where I work. And we are going to have heat stress.
A lot my patients have unstable housing and they often don't have insurance. Maori and Pasifika are the dominant groups here and they are going to be disproportionately affected by these impacts, and it's just not fair. It worries me.
But I also see a lot of hope. If we can grasp the opportunities that come with moving to a low carbon economy, that will have real benefits for health. If we put more resources into our housing – making it more energy efficient and compact – and if we can focus more on public transport and active transport, then that's all good.
• Dr Dougal Thorburn is a Lower Hutt-based GP and a champion mountain runner.
I'm a businessman and I pay myself to be a protester. I've been following climate change for many years. I've been a clicktivist, I've donated to Greenpeace, I grow lots of my own vegetables and I plant hundreds of trees a year.
There was an article that came out in May, about a UN report that showed we were looking at the destruction of a million species in the next few decades. That was the tipping point for me. It just terrified me.
I thought I just had to get out and do something. So I went down to the hardware shop and I painted up a sign and I went and stood in front of Parliament with a sign asking Parliament to declare a climate change emergency, like they have done in the UK, and Canada and Ireland and other countries.
I've literally just been putting myself on the front lawn of Parliament every day now, including weekends. I won't leave until the Government declares a national climate change emergency.
I did this for my children and I'm very, very concerned for the future. Although I was misrepresented in a report recently that said I was motivated by fear. That's not true – I'm actually motivated by hope. As long as we know the facts, and we know what we have to do, then we can get some movement from the Government.
We'll see what happens after the Government does make a declaration. Maybe it will be nothing, but at least I'll be able to look my children in the eyes over coming years and say, you know what? I tried.
• Ollie Langridge is a self-employed father-of-six turned full-time climate change protestor. People can follow his Parliament protest on Instagram at @thathumbleman.
I never used to think about climate change as much as I do now because I'm dealing with it every single day in my job. A lot of people, when they go to work, they try not to bring their jobs home with them and they can live quite separate lives.
For me it's quite different because I spend many of my days looking at climate change projections for New Zealand and producing reports. I also do a lot of work with weather forecasting and communicating about extreme weather.
If you think about the situation we have right now, New Zealand hasn't had a month with a below average mean temperature for 29 months. I was on call for the Nelson fires, and we had to provide a weather forecast knowing about the extreme dryness that was going on. Then we had the Waiho Bridge washout, and a new 48-hour rainfall record.
All of these extreme weather events are in line with what we expect with climate change, and there is a climate change footprint with all of these kinds of events.
It can be very confronting, and when I go home, I just don't feel like I can leave that knowledge behind. It does make you think about your own actions, and how you should be living your own life, and being part of the solution and not the problem.
• Nava Fedaeff is a Siberian-born Niwa climate scientist and forecaster.
I accept the science and the science says we can't afford to put this level of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere indefinitely without causing catastrophic impacts to the world that we live in.
And I think humans are hard-wired to think about the offspring and the generations that come after them. We have enough knowledge now to know that we have to act and do something about this and I think that's what drives me personally.
We have tied ourselves to an energy system that is non-renewable. Cars, motorbikes, boats, aeroplanes, manufactured goods, industrial heating – we need to change the things that we have been using for so long so that they are coming from renewable energy sources. That's the key to maintaining a standard of living and an economic future.
At Christchurch Airport, we have driven nearly 90 per cent of our direct emissions out of our business now. But we are realistic about the fact that we are attached to an industry that is carbon-intensive.
Aviation doesn't have a lot of options in terms of alternative fuel sources at the moment so one of the things that we can do as an airport make sure that we are as efficient on the ground as we possibly can be.
We have rolled out extension cords from all of our gates so airplanes are able to plug into renewable electricity to power themselves on the ground, rather than having to use fossil fuel-driven auxiliary power units.
Our fire team and emergency first responders use a virtual reality training room so they don't have to burn diesel and oil to create the environment they'd expect to face in an aircraft incident.
We have brought in carbon budgeting, and off the back of that, people who may not have been aware of their activity generating carbon are now.
When you introduce a budget and start to measure things, it all becomes visible to you and you know what the challenges, even though you may not have a lot of options to change things immediately.
I believe if we take a whole of economy approach to this, there will be vast amounts of economy better able to change to renewable sources.
Different companies in different parts of the economy will be able to decarbonise at different rates. If everybody waits for everybody else to be able to do it, it will be too late.
• Malcolm Johns is the chief executive of Christchurch Airport, which is a member of the Climate Leaders Coalition that now represents 100 companies, 180,000 employees and 60 per cent of New Zealand's gross emissions.
I didn't really start organising until I was in my late teens, when I had one of those moments where I thought, somebody needs to do something about that, then I had realised that somebody was me and I probably just needed to do it myself.
When I think about it, things have changed a huge amount in 10 years. It's been really interesting to watch. We are finally getting to that place of critical mass where people are taking action. We haven't seen the action we've needed from politicians, and certainly not from corporations, which have been blocking action. But people are very aware now that there are enough of us to hold power to account and to change the way our collective future looks.
I've become more hopeful seeing how our youth have taken up climate activism. I'm seeing people across all different kind of communities who are super passionate. Since I started activism, I've had a baby, so I feel I have to feel more hopeful, for her sake, that we can make this world a better place.
I obviously try to live in line with my values but the biggest thing I think we can do is take action with the real polluters. The climate issue has been caused by big industry and a lack of action from politicians but has kind of been engineered so it's blamed on individuals. People then feel guilty and it stops them from taking real action.
• Niamh O'Flynn is a climate change activist and executive director of 350 Aotearoa.
My first job is being a father to two young girls aged eight and six. Every time I make a decision, I have it in the back of my mind, would my kids be proud of this? Have I got their best interests at heart?
Climate change is an issue that's all about the future, and future generations to come, and about the world that we leave behind for them, so it's really important for me that I take on board their feedback and the world view that they have. I supported that by marching in the School Strike 4 Climate. I was glad to be there and it was very real for me to see their ambitions.
I've always had strong focus on environmental sustainability and now I think I can make a huge difference as mayor. Eighty-five per cent of Wellington's emissions come from transport and stationary energy.
All of the decisions that we make have a huge influence on how we get around the city, and we just made one about how we structure transport around Wellington for the next 50 years.
Climate change is a real risk for us. Even today, the building we previously occupied down in Te Ngākau Civic Square has got salt water coming up through the car park from cracks that were left after the earthquake.
In high tide and king tides in particular, we were already having problems when it would have to be pumped out.
You see that happening in buildings and car parks in Featherston St; those parts of the city are regularly inundated. It is going to be an ongoing issue for our CBD. The vast proportion of the city's economic output comes from our CBD and it's all on reclaimed land and we also have low-lying dwellings around the city.
Anything above 1.2 metres, we've still got time to address over the next few decades, but we have to change our planning decisions for the future, as well as around where people are able to build.
Climate change is real. It is happening and it is incumbent upon everyone to act.
• Justin Lester is the mayor of Wellington. The Wellington City Council recently became the latest major council to declare a climate change emergency.
I've known about climate change for my whole life, but it was never really a tangible thing. It was sort of a far-off distant problem.
That was until a few years ago when I really started getting involved in environmental studies at my school and learning all of this stuff and suddenly, I thought this is quite scary.
Over the last four years, it's become a lot more talked about. We are actually seeing changes in our natural environment and it's really terrifying to be honest, because the future is so uncertain.
And if you talk to adults about it, they say it's "your generation's problem". But we are still learning about this stuff, so how are we meant to fix it if we haven't yet lived to that point in our education?
Personally, I have a lot of anger toward older generations and the inaction that is happened is really insulting. Politicians, corporations… I hold a lot of anger towards how, economically, they hold so much power and don't really care.
I guess for me, it's about opening a conversation. It's a really big thing and it can be overwhelming and seem like the world is ending and everything is going to be on fire. But as kids, we actually have a pretty powerful say.
I understand that climate change isn't black and white, but there is no excuse for inaction. Right now, we should be creating a stronger Zero Carbon Bill. It's a good start, but it doesn't have enough teeth.
• Stella Fish is a 17-year-old Year 13 student at Epsom Girls Grammar School in Auckland. She was a 2019 BLAKE Inspire delegate and one of the organisers of the Auckland School Strike 4 Climate protest.
I was born and bred on Trelinnoe. The farm was built from scratch by my father and uncle, who spent 20 or 30 years on bulldozers crushing scrub and bringing it in. When we picked it up after that there was 1800ha of grass.
It's in Te Pohue in Hawke's Bay and it's fragile pumice country. The whole test for that district was Cyclone Bola in 1988. That was such an event that most of our neighbours walked off the land. Today we one of the very few sheep and cattle farmers left in the district.
It's probably what started us down the track of thinking about a different farming set-up. I look back to how we were farming even 15 years ago compared to now and it's completely different. We have different stock classes and stock mixes and we manage our pastures differently.
We got hit on the head with a triple drought in 2007, 2008 and 2009, but 2007 was a humdinger for us. We had six months without rain and normally green pastures turned to dust and a third of our dams dried up. That was a particularly big wake-up call. There was no way we wanted to live through that again so we made changes.
The experts tell us that it's going to get hotter and drier on the East Coast. I don't see these changing weather patterns and climate change as frightening, but I certainly see them as challenging. I don't see it as something that should push people off their properties.
Dairy is our biggest export earner now and it was red meat a generation before that. Maybe a generation from now it might be horticulture. It's about responding and adapting.
But it does take money and it's important that farmers should be allowed to continue running profitable businesses. We're going to need water storage. As the old saying goes, you can't be green if you're not in the black.
• Bruce Wills is a Hawke's Bay sheep and cattle farmer and a former Federated Farmers national president.
It was just before school started and I went over to the river. Someone said there was water seeping through the stopbank so I went straight home. Not long after that did it all come over. My neighbour who is the primary school headmaster came over to get me. I didn't want to go because I had cats and I didn't want to leave them.
But as I walked out I could just see water pouring down the road, just dirty brown water, and all coming towards me. I lived through the earthquake here in the 1980s and I think I'd rather have the earthquake. It didn't come into the house but I lost everything in my shed. It was 10 days I was away. My two daughters came over from Australia to help me and my insurance company replaced everything very quickly.
I've still got mud and silt now in different places, but my section is nice now, you wouldn't think that it had changed.
Still, I think about [climate change] a lot these days. Every time it rains - and it's been teeming lately - you think about whether that river could come over again. I think there needs to be better planning for places like Edgecumbe, especially after what we went through. There should be more planning.
• Joan Newdick was one of 1600 Edgecumbe residents who were forced to evacuate after the Rangitaiki River breached its banks and poured through the Bay of Plenty town in April 2017. The extreme weather that preceded the disaster is projected to become a more frequent occurrence under climate change.
We've only just turned a corner in terms of awareness. That's been finally illustrated by the fact that, after 20 years of alarm signals being sounded by the scientific community, the media is starting to report the issue in a more proactive kind of way.
As a result public awareness is increasing and that is now demonstrated by local authorities declaring climate emergencies. The national Iwi Chairs Forum declared a state of emergency not long after Great Britain did so we were slightly ahead of the curve here.
Climate change is a threat to human existence. We are concerned about our children and our grandchildren having a secure environment in which to thrive. I don't think Maori are unique here and we are all in this boat together. Whatever affects the planet affects us.
Over the next 10 years we need to be about 90 per cent focused on emissions reductions and about 10 per cent on adaptation. But after we cross the safety line, adaptation is going to become more of an issue.
If we get past another 3C of warming, and you get run-away climate change, it's just a matter of time before we reach tipping points, so it would be a mistake to be running around trying to prepare for a better world and a more secure world unless we prevent emissions taking us to the point of no return.
And reports that have come out recently show us that our emissions have been increasing, so we are obviously not doing enough. The agriculture sector has to wake up and smell the kowhai in regard to their responsibilities, the effect that they have, and not trying to resist or protect their bottom line. There is going to be a hit right across the economy and no one is going to be immune from that.
• Mike Smith is chair of the Climate Change Iwi Leaders Group and has been active around climate change since attending the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. He today announced he would be suing the Government over climate change.
I've got two boys and one of them is about to start school. When I think about what the future is going to be like for them I actually get quite worried. I'm worried about the loss of eco-diversity and biodiversity. I'm worried about rising sea levels. I'm worried about increasing extreme weather events.
For parents there seems to be two ways that they are responding to this crisis. One is you can try to fortify your own family against the consequences that are going to come can you try to make your family more advantaged and try to build resilience.
The other way is talking to your children and trying to educate them about it and encouraging the kids to take up the issue for themselves. That will be the approach that I take with my boys.
At the moment there is a lot of global inequality, particularly in the Pacific Islands, where the economies of these nations are really tied to their crop production. I'm worried that with climate change the burden is going to rest more heavily on the poor. That is going to lead to a much more unequal and unjust world.
You see a lot of framing around the risks to our country and what's going to happen to our coastlines. As somebody who is interested in child health and child wellbeing, I'm worried about how climate change by exacerbate these existing inequalities.
I'm concerned to bring my children up in a world where there might be food scarcity issues and where we might be dealing with a more precarious situation in the Pacific.
• Dr Jin Russell is a developmental and general paediatric registrar at Starship Children's Hospital and a University of Auckland researcher.
The evidence of climate change is clear. So the question really then becomes: what are the solutions? As teachers, we need to empower our students to find solutions to solve the climate crisis.
Here at Cashmere High School, our students have really set a precedent in coming up with some of those solutions. We started a sustainable energy project back in 2012. Our energy bill here had doubled over the space of five years, so obviously we had a very real problem to solve.
Our students led a switch-off campaign around the school, which successfully reduced energy consumption by 10 per cent. We installed smart meters, so we could actually see the progress we were making in real time. We then installed LED lights, which reduced our energy by another 20 per cent. And we had a big publicity campaign involving social media all through the school. We applied for the Zayed Future Energy Prize, which we won in 2016, and were awarded $US100,000. Part of that prize was to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to sustainability.
The students came up with a three-phase plan and the first part involved installing a 25kW solar panel array. That's 100 solar panels. We've also now got a 2kW wind turbine at the school entrance. And we have just become the first school in New Zealand to install kinetic floor tiles that generate electricity when students walk on them. We can actually harvest electricity from students' footsteps.
I think the whole project has demonstrated that if students from Christchurch, New Zealand, can go out and win a global prize like this, there's no reason why they can't take that further and become leaders in sustainability on the global stage.
I was talking to my Year 12 class this morning about graphene supercapacitors, and how the scientists who discovered it won a Nobel Prize in 2010. Graphene is made from carbon, which is more sustainable than lithium-ion batteries and they can charge inside 15 seconds. That's a revolution and that's the future.
We need our students here in New Zealand to be those leaders of tomorrow – those scientists and electrical engineers who can actually invent and develop these solutions.
• Leith Cooper is a science and physics teacher at Cashmere High School in Christchurch. He runs the school's Sustainability Council and served as an environmental educator with the Sir Peter Blake Trust on a 2018 expedition to the Kermadec Islands.
I've lived in Hawke's Bay pretty much my entire life. We've got a vulnerable coastline and there are a number of coastal communities that are clearly in the firing line of erosion and inundation caused by sea level rise.
The last beach you get to before you get to Cape Kidnappers is called Clifton and there used to be a whole row of tent and caravan sites on the seaward side of the road that went in. In my lifetime all of those campsites have gone and the road has been moved in three times. Probably about 50m of coastline has just disappeared and that's not insignificant.
Recognising that we had a major problem and we had to do something about it, my council, the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, sat down with the other councils to see if we could persuade them to commission some work and look at what the consequences of sea level rise of up to 1.5m over the next 100 years would be.
That was quite a unique approach at the time because councils have just tended to put a stake in the ground and put out a coastal hazards guide for affected property owners.
That's what happened in Kapiti and Christchurch and we decided to avoid that sort of approach. We took a very much bottom-up approach and went out and talked to the communities to see what they thought the solutions were, and what they could afford to pay.
Then we looked at what the best solutions were for nine sections of the coast that we isolated. We developed strategies for the short, medium and long term – that's 20 years, 50 years and 100 years – and the idea was to have an adaptive strategy so you could bring plans forward when you wanted to.
The Government seem to think that retreat is the best option, but what we are talking about here is peoples' biggest investment. They're not ready to retreat and want to stand and defend for as long as they can. So you have to take that into account. In the first instance, our plan is about defending the coastline with hard or soft engineering, but recognising in the long term, that may not be possible.
We also have to look at this as intergenerational problem and that's why we are starting to set up a contribution fund. Over the next 100 years, the estimate is that we will need to be spending $300m, and that doesn't even cover the cost of relocating people.
• Peter Beaven is a Hawke's Bay regional councillor and was a key architect of the The Clifton to Tangoio Coastal Hazards Strategy 2120 – a collaboration between local councils, iwi and coastal community leaders. The plan was recently singled out as a planning exemplar by the OECD.