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The small things do add up

As the climate crisis worsens, New Zealanders are becoming starkly aware that, unlike some of the world’s problems, it’s not just happening somewhere else; many people are pessimistic about what they can do to make a difference.

As market researcher Ipsos showed in a survey last year, 72 per cent of New Zealanders believe that if individuals don’t act now, they will be failing future generations. This parallels attitudes in similar surveys around the world, with many feeling powerless and confused about what they can do.

Following on from an initial meeting at the Copthorne last November, a recent well-attended climate hui in Masterton organised by Sustainable Wairarapa concentrated on the positive, individual action that can be taken in the Wairarapa.

There was particular interest in and enthusiasm for the ‘Take the Jump’ programme, which the Nelson-Tasman Climate Forum has adapted from the original United Kingdom model as ‘Take the Jump – Tangohia Te Peke’.

‘Take the Jump’ is based on six, evidence-based, lifestyle shifts that will make the most difference to carbon emissions. These are the things individuals can commit themselves to and will, research confirms, make a 25-27 per cent contribution to meeting the necessary targets. And, hopefully, strengthen the resolve of citizens in insisting that government and businesses, at the ballot box and cash register, contribute the rest.

The Nelson-Tasman Climate Forum has calculated that, to have a 50 per cent chance of keeping the global temperature increase to 1.5C degrees, local residents will need to reduce long-lived carbon emissions by 8 per cent each year until 2030. The challenge in the Wairarapa will be similar.

This real, concrete goal is based on individuals taking action in six areas.

The first is a commitment to reducing the unnecessary – keeping possessions for at least seven years.

Many have a smartphone and personal computer and, very often, a tablet, e-reader, smart-watch and other electronic items. Typically, they are replaced for an upgraded model at least every couple of years. The target should be to keep electronic products for five to seven years – their optimum lifetime.

New Zealanders’ addiction to gadgets, and buying ‘stuff’ in general, is a sizeable contributor to carbon emissions. Rare earth metals extraction and huge product volumes generate a significant amount of emissions – often more than the energy demands of the product itself. For example, only 13 per cent of the Apple iPhone 11 Pro’s lifetime emissions are actually to do with its use; the other 86 per cent are associated with its production, transport and end-of-life processing.

Secondly, holiday locally, making the most of what the region has to offer and book strategically if a flight somewhere is unavoidable.

Thirdly, ‘eat green’. Eat more plant-based, local food and compost waste. Fourthly, ‘dress retro’. Shop second-hand whenever possible. Number five: ‘travel fresh’. Walk or bike, carpool and take public transport. Finally, think planting, not chainsaws – make a positive contribution to preserving and protecting the country’s unique biodiversity.

There’s nothing revolutionary, or even particularly challenging, about these lifestyle commitments, but they will make a concrete difference – and boost mental health at the same time.

It is to be hoped that the Wairarapa will soon sign up to the ‘Taking the Jump’ programme which provides a range of ways of turning well-meaning ideas into reality.

    Take a moment to look at the UK organisation’s website: https://takethejump.org/

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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