The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change. They are responsible for advancing knowledge on human-induced climate change and have just released their 2022 report. The contents contain a sobering message: the world needs to act now, and the onus is on all of us. Below is Tadpole’s summary of the key statements and recommendations from the report.
The current climate – to the nth degree
IPCC’s latest report provides a clear directive for the way forward: change our lifestyles and the way our industries operate.
Over the past decade, global emissions have continued to steadily rise and are now at their highest point ever in history. By 2040, the world needs to have made a concerted effort to prevent global warming rising beyond a further 1.5°C. The goal is to eventually attain a stabilised global temperature – something which can only be achieved when carbon dioxide emissions reach net zero. At a 1.5°C increase, net zero could be reached by the early 2050’s if global greenhouse gas emissions were able to peak by 2025 and fall significantly by 2030 (43%). However, even an increase in 0.5°C resulting in 2°C would set this achievement back another 20 years. As such, we are already on the backfoot and more stringent cuts to emissions will have the greatest impact on reducing global warming.
Methane gas emissions also need to be reduced by a third within these timeframes. Methane has the potential to be 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide in many circumstances, particularly as time goes on. Food waste and agriculture are key contributors to this environmental impact.
Not so green NZ
Here in New Zealand, although we are synonymous with rolling green pasture and ragged mountains, we are also one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters per capita, with our transport, agriculture and energy being our biggest contributors.
However, we only need to look back on the COVID-19 pandemic to see that when we collectively put our minds to something and work together, small actions and sacrifices can drive great change. Below are some key ways your household or business can contribute to the global effort to reduce carbon and methane emissions.
How Kiwi households and businesses can reduce their emissions impact
Transport – Households
Limit transport: Is your destination within walking distance? Consider reducing a few of your trips and taking a cycle or pounding the pavement instead. Carpool to that next social event or share an Uber ride.
Use public transport: If active transport such as walking or cycling is not on the cards, consider public transport if you have access to it.
Swap petrol for an electric vehicle (EV): If your current vehicle is on its last legs, consider an EV or electrical bike for your next personal mode of transport. Or if you live close to public transport, consider leading a car-less life.
Local holidays: Although lockdowns have been lengthy and many have itchy feet to capitalise on the NZ borders reopening, consider local holidays where possible to reduce air travel and long-haul flights.
Transport – Businesses
Working from home: Where suitable, encourage employees who can do so to work from home, reducing their carbon emissions from their daily work travels, particularly at peak hours.
Virtual meetings: Perhaps some meetings can be held virtually, saving multiple people travelling from several areas in multiple vehicles.
Carpooling: If employees need to work onsite, consider incentivising carpooling.
Swap air travel for rail: Can you or employees get to a destination via rail instead of air if it needs to be in person?
Replace petrol for EV company vehicles: If company vehicles are provided to business staff or supply chain fleets, look to replace standard petrol vehicles with EVs as they become due for replacement. For employees with their own purchased EV, look to incentivise them, such as with subsidies or complimentary carparks.
Review your supply chain routes & timetables: Could there be ways to optimise your supply chain to reduce carbon emissions? Consider using EVs in your supply chain fleet, reviewing transport routes and duration of time on the road, and look for ways to streamline getting from point A to B.
Food – Households
Reduce meat intake: Try having one meat-free meal a day or one day out of the week with no meat. Increasing the amount of plant-based food in your diet can help contribute to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and land occupation through agriculture. If you want to take it further, consider a plant-based diet such as going vegetarian or vegan.
Avoid food waste & over consumption: Don’t stock up on short shelf-life/perishable foods if you know you won’t get through them and avoid over consuming.
Food – Business
Donate food: If your business manufactures excess food waste, get in touch with food rescue organisations and hubs to pass on food to those communities in need instead of increasing landfill. Food waste in landfill releases the greenhouse gas methane as it decomposes without the presence of oxygen. This contributes to the earth’s rising temperature as it traps and absorbs heat.
Improve agricultural practices: Reduce waste through controlling how much and what type of feed livestock consume.
Shelter + Energy – Households
Lighting: Opt for LED lights where possible and optimise natural light sources through windows and open spaces.
Heating: Invest in an energy efficient heat pump or consider switching to a 100% renewable energy supplier.
Solar thermal devices: Solar panels are a great option for a renewable energy source.
Shelter + Energy – Businesses
Shift working times: Can work hours be shifted to accommodate seasonal changes? Consider later starts to negate the later sunrise or extra heating and use of energy lighting.
Light sensors: Incorporate light sensors in places with less regular occupancy, such as hallways or restrooms, to reduce excess use of lighting.
Turn off auto AC: Opt for manual operation, where appropriate, to reduce excess use.
Solar thermal devices: Consider using solar panels on your premises.
Recycling – Households
Recycle materials: Minimise your contribution to waste by recycling and reusing items such as bottles and plastics for storing household items.
Repurpose/donate electronics & furniture: Donate unwanted items to charity organisations or communities in need. Research ‘trade-in’ options with your mobile or PC provider when updating your technology.
Recycling – Businesses
Recycle materials: Have dedicated bins at your premises and educate staff on correct recycling protocol. Can machinery or other technology be repurposed before considering it waste? Ensure paper waste is recycled – or even better, go paperless.
Plant more trees: Sometimes certain processes cannot be adapted to reduce emissions and instead we need to take action to offset these. The longstanding action of planting more trees continues to be recommended when considering this circumstance. Plants are the earth’s natural air purifiers by absorbing CO2, but as temperatures rise, many forests die off. Not only can we preserve current rainforests by opting to only purchase from organisations which sustainably farm resources such as palm oil, but we can support reforestation by replanting forests over time and increasing flora in urban areas to offset the likes of car and transport emissions.
Change requires cohesion
Just as the world can’t plant its way out of climate change, no singular group or individual can tackle this issue on their own.
As individuals, we can use our power as customers to encourage the changes needed to reduce our footprint by pushing for cheaper transport fares and accessibility, reductions in EV prices and encouraging sustainable packaging from retailers or more flexible work from home arrangements.
To drive forward with our emissions reduction, both here in NZ and globally, there needs to be synergy between the policy makers, all industry sectors and businesses, as well as the individuals and communities who are adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. Governments and businesses need to put in place structures and policies that make the move to more sustainable practices realistic and achievable. The very act of sustainability needs to be sustainable itself, and everyone needs to work together to achieve this.
If your business is wanting to reduce its carbon footprint, engage employees, strengthen stakeholder relationships, or become a leader in the sustainability space, Tadpole can help. Contact Allan Birch on 021 930 992 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat about the sustainability needs of your organisation.