Frequently Asked Questions about Climate Disruption

Is climate disruption a reality now?

Records show 2015 was the hottest year on Earth since records began, following another record year in 2014. The El Nino weather pattern was partly the cause of some of the extreme weather events and high temperatures of 2015 but scientists say human-induced climate disruption was also responsible. Average temperatures are already around halfway to the two degree rise over pre-industrial levels.

Why are our native plants and animals vulnerable to climate change?

Our native plants and animals have evolved over millions of years. Many are now confined to isolated pockets and widespread development makes it difficult for them to adapt by moving to new sites. Small habitats are more vulnerable to extreme weather, such as storms, flooding and drought. The health of forests would be affected by climate disruption, reducing their capacity to act as stores for carbon. What’s more, evolution in isolation from much of the rest of the world means that habitats and wildlife are highly vulnerable to pests and diseases – many of which will spread and become more vigorous because of climate disruption.

What has New Zealand pledged to do?

New Zealand signed up to the Paris agreement and pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, or 11 percent below the 1990 benchmark set at earlier international climate conferences. This is a weak target which if followed by all countries would likely lead to warming of more than three to four degrees celsius, according to independent analysis by Climate Tracker.

New Zealand has also committed to supporting efforts aimed at limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius. This means stepping up efforts.

What cuts in greenhouse emissions does Forest & Bird want New Zealand to achieve?

By 2040 we want New Zealand’s emissions to have fallen by 70 percent from 1990 levels and for our country to have achieved carbon neutrality. We want measures put in place to ensure nature can be more resilient to the changes caused by climate disruption.

We have an emissions trading scheme designed to reduce carbon emissions. Why isn’t it working?

The low price on carbon in the Emissions Trading Scheme and the wide scale exemptions and subsidies for polluters under the scheme mean that even the Government’s own review shows that it is doing nothing to encourage people to cut their emissions. New Zealand needs a robust price on carbon set by an independent climate commission. We also need to invest in areas that a carbon price will not influence much – like more public transport.