Lis­ten to the kids

The Northland Age - - Local Life / Opinion -

Next week thou­sands of stu­dents across the coun­try will ‘strike’ over the lack of ac­tion be­ing taken to com­bat cli­mate change, the big­gest and most ur­gent threat to hu­man­ity’s ex­is­tence on this planet. If we care about the planet our chil­dren will in­herit from us then we need to step up the com­mu­ni­ty­wide con­ver­sa­tion about how we can change our fos­sil-fu­elled ways.

Two ini­tia­tives in Kaitaia last week were moves in the right di­rec­tion. The mas­sive 100kW so­lar power sys­tem at Kaitaia Col­lege not only sup­plies clean, re­new­able, cheap en­ergy for the school, but is help­ing to spread the mes­sage that there are al­ter­na­tives to our cur­rent car­bon-heavy en­ergy use. By in­te­grat­ing re­new­able en­ergy into the cur­ricu­lum, along with en­ergy mon­i­tor­ing and con­ser­va­tion, these ideas will spread rapidly through our com­mu­nity, lead­ing to more re­new­able en­ergy projects and be­havioural changes.

Tran­si­tion Towns Kaitaia hosted en­vi­ron­men­tal econ­o­mist Khur­ram Rao to front a dis­cus­sion on why New Zealand won’t reach the tar­get of a 30 per cent re­duc­tion on 2005 emis­sions in the next decade. Khur­ram stated that our cur­rent en­ergy ef­fi­cient tar­gets and car­bon price poli­cies won’t be enough to reach this goal, and that cen­tral gov­ern­ment needs to adopt en­ergy ac­tion plans in the trans­port, in­dus­try and res­i­den­tial sec­tors.

Last year the NRC signed the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment NZ Cli­mate Change Dec­la­ra­tion, which set out prin­ci­ples and as­pi­ra­tions ad­dress­ing the chal­lenges of cli­mate change. It re­alised that coun­cils and the gov­ern­ment, need to work with com­mu­ni­ties, pro­vid­ing good in­for­ma­tion and re­sources so they can make the best de­ci­sions them­selves.

I’m hop­ing the work we’ve done in pro­mot­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles and sup­port­ing the elec­tric charg­ing net­work in North­land will be en­cour­ag­ing lo­cals to turn over a new leaf, a Nis­san Leaf to be pre­cise. These cars run at an equiv­a­lent cost of 30 cents per litre and pro­duce no green­house gas emis­sions. A sec­ond­hand model costs around 10 to 15 grand, but has min­i­mal run­ning costs and is vir­tu­al­ly­main­te­nance free.

We’re help­ing with the es­tab­lish­ment of ‘fast’ charg­ing net­works in North­land. Last year Whanga¯rei was crowned the most EV-friendly city in New Zealand. Our HQ in Whanga¯rei has in­stalled its own rooftop so­lar sys­tem, which charges the 12 elec­tric ve­hi­cles in our fleet and of­fers free charg­ing just out­side our of­fice.

We’re also work­ing with com­mu­ni­ties to un­der­stand, pre­pare for and build re­silience to the phys­i­cal im­pacts of cli­mate change. Our 3200km of coast­line and ad­ja­cent low-ly­ing land cre­ates coastal and flood haz­ards that will only in­crease with sea level rise and flash flood­ing. We’ve in­vested heav­ily in mod­el­ling and map­ping these haz­ards, so if you are liv­ing in these ar­eas you may want to check out https:/ /nr­cgis.maps.ar­cgis.com/apps/ we­bap­pviewer/in­dex.html?id=81b 958563a2c4­0ec89f2f60­e­fc99b13b to es­ti­mate your cur­rent and fu­ture risks.

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"I’m hop­ing the work we’ve done in pro­mot­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles and sup­port­ing the elec­tric charg­ing net­work in North­land will be en­cour­ag­ing lo­cals to turn over a new leaf..."

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