Climate Change action
© Katrina Reilly / WWF-New Zealand

Climate Change action

Climate change is having a dramatic impact on our natural environment.

The climate crisis affects every corner of our planet – from the poles to the tropics, and from the mountains to the oceans.

People and nature worldwide are already feeling the effects from rising sea levels. From droughts, fires, flooding and heatwaves caused by extreme weather. And the destruction of coral reefs due to changes in ocean temperature.

These impacts will only worsen if the global temperature continues to rise.

© Anton Vorauer /WWF

Causes

The science is clear. Climate change is caused by human activities.

When we burn fossil fuels, we release carbon pollution into the air. Forests and the oceans help to absorb this carbon dioxide, while deforestation and deep-sea mining contributes to the planet's warming because they release stored carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide isn't the only greenhouse gas. Other gases, like methane and nitrous oxide also trap heat in the atmosphere. Animal agriculture is a big emitter of these gases because of the unsustainable way we farm and what artificial fossil fuel based fertilisers we are putting onto the land.

New Zealanders produce a lot of greenhouse gases, though we're a small country, our emissions per person are big. Per person, we're one of the thirty biggest emitters worldwide - and agriculture is responsible for around half of those emissions.

© Francesco Ungaro

New Zealand Impact

The climate crisis is already affecting New Zealand. Our people and ecosystems are already feeling the heat.

Already, the national average temperature has risen by 1.1˚C since 1900. South Island glaciers are retreating, and we're recording fewer frosts. We are already paying more for insurance to deal with extreme weather, like floods and droughts.

We can expect a lot more to come. Climate change will almost certainly cause more droughts and water shortages. It will mean increased heavy rainfall in other areas and an increased risk of flooding. Coastal areas will face greater erosion, and possible inundation.  

Over the next 30 – 100 years, temperatures will continue to rise. It’s also likely that our lives and livelihoods will be significantly affected by global impacts such as immigration, food shortages, and political instability.

© Lou Sanson

Secret Ally

Nature is a secret ally, that has untapped potential to help address the climate crisis.

Earth’s natural systems play a central role in regulating the climate – and in protecting us from the worst consequences of our actions. The world’s oceans, plants, animals, and soils have absorbed 54% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions of the past 10 years.

But nature has limits for both mitigation and adaptation, and unless we safeguard and restore nature, we run the risk of losing it as an ally, and with that the goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C.

Conserving and recovering nature is not just a tool for carbon dioxide removal. When we protect and restore ecosystems, we do more than boost their carbon storage potential. We also enhance biodiversity and bring back the full suite of ecosystem services nature provides. 

And it’s not just about wilderness habitats. Cities and urban areas, where over two-thirds of the global population are projected to live by 2050, are hotspots of climate risk and opportunity.          

Cities and urban areas hold untapped potential for people and nature to work together and mitigate climate change. Global urban trees store approximately 7.4 billion tonnes of carbon and sequester approximately an additional 217 million tonnes of carbon annually (nearly 800 million tonnes of carbon dioxide).

The Solutions

The good news is that we already have affordable solutions to limit warming to 1.5°C. That can also benefit lives, livelihoods and nature, allowing us to build our societies and economies in a more sustainable way. 

What is WWF doing?

  • We’re pushing governments to set ambitious policies that favour climate-resilient, net-zero development, energy efficiency, and clean renewable energy for all – and holding them to account.
  • We’re supporting businesses to cut their carbon emissions, and helping to reduce their impact in areas like agriculture, forests and water. 
  • We're working with finance institutions to get money out of fossil fuels and into climate solutions such as renewable energy technology and forest restoration.
  • We’re helping people and nature adapt to the changes caused by climate change that are no longer avoidable.

Nature-based solutions explained

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