Our goal is to collect one piece of litter every day for one year.

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Environment News Pollution stopping pollution tips

Our goal is to collect one piece of litter every day for one year.

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We are collecting one piece of litter every day for 365 days around our local area of Cambridge, New Zealand.

This is our small way of doing what we believe is right in helping clean up litter and helping the environment. Inspired by @onepieceoflitteraday

We all must play our part. If each person collected one piece of rubbish every day for a year across the world, we would be having a different conversation about climate change and pollution.

Why should we all be collecting litter?

I’m sure you would agree, there is no need for littering in today’s world with the resources that local councils and governments provide – is it as simple as laziness?

Possibly. We believe it has become part of today’s culture, around the world where people of all ages think they have the right to do as they please with no repercussions for their behaviour or the environment.

In some cases we have seen first-hand, people walking over litter and even kicking it out of the way without registering that it is rubbish. How did we become like this?

In New Zealand, there are many bins for all our rubbish, however, for some inexplicable reason, people do not dispose of their litter in a bin or take it home. This is not a new message, why do people ignore it?

Stop Litter in New Zealand

Litter, although it seems harmless enough, is just a piece of paper or plastic lying around. It can’t do too much harm, right?

Firstly, litter looks ugly and then over time it breaks down to smaller micro pieces, which have been entering waterways and affecting local wildlife.

Over the last three decades, we have seen a major increase in sea pollution from land-based rubbish flowing into our seas and rivers – this is not a new problem but needs action now to stop it.

It’s time for everyone to say enough is enough. It’s time to do the right thing.

Visit Keep New Zealand Beautiful to find more information, people doing great things, how you can help to keep New Zealand, our country green.

We also will have other resources available on our resources page.

The Earthshot Prize – 5 Challenges for the next decade

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climate change Environment News World

The Earthshot Prize – 5 Challenges for the next decade

Protect & Restore Nature

By 2030 we choose to ensure that, for the first time in human history, the natural world is growing not shrinking – on our planet.

Clean our Air

By 2030 we choose to ensure that everyone in the world breathes clean healthy air – at the World Organisation Standard or better.

Revive our Oceans

By 2030 we choose to repair and preserve our oceans for future generations.

Build A Waste Free World

By 2030 we choose to build a world where nothing goes to waste, where the leftovers of one process becomes the raw materials of the next – just like they do in nature.

Fix our Climate

By 2030 we choose to fix the world’s climate by cutting out carbon: building a carbon-neutral economy that lets every culture, community, and country thrive. Carbon in the atmosphere is making our planet warmer, to levels that threaten all life on Earth. But it is not too late; if we act now, we can make the world a better, more sustainable home for everyone.

We will combat climate change by removing more carbon from the atmosphere than we put into it and ensuring all countries reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. We will build defences to protect innocent people from climate driven disasters and crises.

Warmest winter on record for New Zealand 2020 winter

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Environment New Zealand News timeline

Warmest winter on record for New Zealand 2020 winter

New Zealand has just experienced its warmest winter on record, according to official NIWA climate data.

NIWA’s Seven Station Temperature Series, which began in 1909, shows the 2020 winter was 1.14°C above average, just nudging out winter 2013 from the top spot, which was 1.08°C above average.

This year’s result also means seven of the 10 warmest winters on record in New Zealand have occurred since the year 2000.

Seventeen locations observed record breaking mean winter temperatures, with an additional 53 locations ranking within their top four warmest winters.

NIWA forecaster Ben Noll says the winter warmth can be attributed to several factors:

  • More sub-tropical northeasterly winds than normal, particularly in the North Island. This brought warmer air toward New Zealand from the north
  •  Sea surface temperatures above average during winter, especially August. As an island nation, New Zealand’s air temperatures are strongly influenced by the seas surrounding it
  • Air pressure was higher than normal, particularly to the east. This contributed to a sunnier than normal winter in much of the South Island and lower North Island
  • Climate change – the warmth over winter is consistent with New Zealand’s long-term trend of increasing air temperatures.
New Zealand has just experienced its warmest winter on record, according to official NIWA climate data.

Other Records

The highest recorded winter 2020 temperature was 25.1°C on August 30 in Timaru. This was the highest temperature recorded there during winter since records began in 1885 and the equal-4th warmest winter temperature on record for New Zealand as a whole.

The lowest temperature was  -12.3°C, observed at Middlemarch on 14 June.

New Zealand has just experienced its warmest winter on record, according to official NIWA climate data.

Of these locations the most anomalously warm (i.e. largest deviation from average) was Farewell Spit, where mean daily temperatures of 13.0°C were experienced. This is 2.8°C more than the winter average and the warmest on record since records began there in 1971.

Furthermore, mean maximum (i.e. daytime) temperatures at this location were 3.1°C warmer than average, while mean minimum (i.e. night-time) temperatures were 2.3°C warmer than average (these are also the largest anomalies in their respective categories).

Kaikohe had its second wettest winter on record, with 935mm of rain recorded for the season, which was 187% of normal. Records began in 1956.

At the opposite end of the scale, Reefton had its second driest winter on record with just 291 mm of rain recorded over three months – or 54% of normal. Records began in 1960. Much of the middle and upper South Island observed below or well below normal rainfall totals.

It will be no surprise that the highest one-day rainfall occurred in Northland in mid-July. Kaikohe and Whangarei received 262 and 251 mm respectively on July 17.

This is the highest one-day rainfall amount observed for both locations during winter. Kaikohe records began in 1956 and Whangarei in 1943.

Source: NIWA

Microplastics – New study estimates there is at least 10x more in Atlantic ocean

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climate change Environment News Science World

Microplastics – New study estimates there is at least 10x more in Atlantic ocean

Why are these types of studies important?

Microplastics, along with other pollutants, are dramatically affecting our wildlife on the land and in the sea. Without these studies, we would not know the damage that has been done to the oceans by pollution over time – the disturbing issue is that the damage we are seeing today is not from yesterday but decades ago. The Editor

The mass of ‘invisible’ microplastics found in the upper waters of the Atlantic Ocean is approximately 12- 21 million tonnes, according to research published in the journal Nature Communications.

Significantly, this figure is only for three of the most common types of plastic litter in a limited size range. Yet, it is comparable in magnitude to estimates of all plastic waste that has entered the Atlantic Ocean over the past 65 years: 17 million tonnes.

This suggests that the supply of plastic to the ocean has been substantially underestimated.

The lead author of the paper, Dr Katsiaryna Pabortsava from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), said “Previously, we couldn’t balance the mass of floating plastic we observed with the mass we thought had entered the ocean since 1950.

This is because earlier studies hadn’t been measuring the concentrations of ‘invisible’ microplastic particles beneath the ocean surface. Our research is the first to have done this across the entire Atlantic, from the UK to the Falklands.

The Atlantic Ocean might hold about 200 million tonnes of Microplastics

Co-author, Professor Richard Lampitt, also from the NOC, added “if we assume that the concentration of microplastics we measured at around 200 metres deep is representative of that in the water mass to the seafloor below with an average depth of about 3000 metres, then the Atlantic Ocean might hold about 200 million tonnes of plastic litter in this limited polymer type and size category.

This is much more than is thought to have been supplied. “

 “In order to determine the dangers of plastic contamination to the environment and to humans, we need good estimates of the amount and characteristics of this material, how it enters the ocean, how it degrades, and then how toxic it is at these concentrations.

This paper demonstrates that scientists have had a totally inadequate understanding of even the simplest of these factors, how much is there, and it would seem our estimates of how much is dumped into the ocean has been massively underestimated”.

Pabortsava and Lampitt collected their seawater samples during the 26th Atlantic Meridional Transect expedition in September to November 2016.

They filtered large volumes of seawater at three selected depths in the top 200 metres and detected and identified plastic contaminants using state-of-the-art spectroscopic imaging technique. Their study focussed on polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene, which are commercially most prominent and also most littered plastic types.   

This study builds on the NOC’s cutting-edge research into marine plastic contamination, which aims to better understand the magnitude and persistence of exposure to plastics and the potential harms it can cause.

This work was supported by the EU H2020 AtlantOS programme and the NOC.

The AMT programme was supported by the UK Natural Environment Research Council National Capability as funding to Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the NOC.

We must act now to stop plastics getting into our oceans – otherwise, this cycle will continue to grow.

COVID-19 ALERT LEVEL 3 for Auckland, August 2020

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News timeline

COVID-19 ALERT LEVEL 3 for Auckland, August 2020

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces level 3 lockdown for Auckland due to the discovery of Community Covid-19 cases. New Zealand moves to Level 2 throughout the remainder of the country. So far 49 cases have been discovered in the cluster found in Auckland – all in managed quarantined facilities.

Auckland Level 3 update

New Zealand has extended a lockdown in its most populous city as the country battles a fresh community coronavirus outbreak that comes after months without any locally transmitted cases.Only five days ago, New Zealand was marking an enviable milestone — 100 days without any community transmission.

But this week has demonstrated how fast that can change, even in a country like New Zealand which has been held up as a world leader for its handling of the virus.

On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland — the city of around 1.5 million people at the center of the new outbreak — will remain under a level three lockdown for another 12 days, while the rest of the country stays under level two restrictions, meaning gatherings are limited to no more than 100 people. The rules extend restrictions that came into effect earlier this week.

Under level three restrictions, people will be told to stay home aside for essential personal movement, schools will operate at limited capacity, and public venues such as museums, playgrounds and gyms will remain shut. 

The fresh outbreak is a blow for New Zealand.

The country already spent five weeks under one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, which closed most businesses and schools, and saw people stay at home.Ardern has warned she expects to see more cases.”Lifting restrictions now and seeing an explosion of cases is the worst thing we could do for Auckland and for the New Zealand economy,” she said. “We have got rid of Covid before … We can do all of that again.” 

Earlier Friday, New Zealand’s Director General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield announced another 12 locally-transmitted coronavirus cases. There are now 49 active cases in New Zealand to 49, 29 of which are linked to the recent outbreak.

The cases are all in Auckland apart from two in Tokoroa, a town of 24,000 about 200km (124 miles) south of the city. According to the Ministry of Health, these two tested positive after a visit from a contact of one of the Auckland cases.

In a press conference Friday, Bloomfield said that 771 close contacts of the confirmed cases had been identified, and more than 15,700 tests had been processed on Thursday — the highest number of tests processed in a single day in the country. Since the start of the outbreak, New Zealand has conducted more than 500,000 tests. It has reported a total of 1,251 coronavirus cases, including 22 deaths.

Source CNN

Covid-19 confirmed cases surpass 20 million

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News timeline

Covid-19 confirmed cases surpass 20 million

Covid-19 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide topped 20 million, more than half of them from the United States, India, and Brazil, as Russia on Tuesday became the first country to register a vaccine against the virus. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the registration at a government meeting and added that one of his two adult daughters had already been inoculated. “She’s feeling well and has a high number of antibodies,” he said.

Russia has reported more than 890,000 cases, the fourth-most in the world, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally that also showed total confirmed cases globally surpassing 20 million.

Covid-19 is accelerating

It took six months or so to get to 10 million cases after the virus first appeared in central China late last year. It took just over six weeks for that number to double. An AP analysis of data through Aug. 9 showed the U.S., India, and Brazil together accounted for nearly two-thirds of all reported infections since the world hit 15 million coronavirus cases on July 22.

Health officials believe the actual number of people infected with the virus is much higher than that tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, given testing limitations and that as many as 40 percent of those with the virus show no symptoms.

In Europe, countries that appeared to have gotten their outbreaks under control during nationwide lockdowns and lifted many public restrictions worked to prevent a resurgence of the virus. Finland joined France and Germany in announcing it would test travelers from at-risk countries upon arrival.

Spain, which along with Italy was hardest hit when the virus first exploded on the continent, now has the most confirmed cases in western Europe at nearly 323,000. The number of new cases have risen steadily in Spain since its strict, three-month lockdown ended on June 21, reaching 1,486 on Monday.

In Greece, which imposed strict lockdown measures early and kept its reported cases low during the height of the European epidemic, the government announced new measures Monday to prevent an outbreak. It ordered bars, restaurants and cafes in several regions to shut between midnight and 7 a.m.

Source NZ Herald

4Ocean Initiative: Why has the ocean plastic initiative seen so much success?

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climate change Environment News

4Ocean Initiative: Why has the ocean plastic initiative seen so much success?

Questions are being asked about 4ocean’s validity and success, We personally believe 4ocean plays an important part in protecting and promoting the issue of plastics pollution in our oceans. We have supported and bought bracelets from 4ocean and will continue to do so. Read this article from IDiveBlue by Zoe Dagan a product expert, a degreed scientist, and a nature nerd originally from coastal California.

Meet the ocean’s newest superstars: recently, they’ve made the news, boasting about their unprecedented, newly christened, state-of-the-art Ocean Plastic Recovery Vessel.

Advertising campaigns featuring eco-friendly bracelets for worthy causes have gone viral, appearing relentlessly in social media feeds worldwide. Bracelet-driven eco-campaigns scale quickly and manage to achieve extraordinary notoriety outside of conventional environmental groups and activist circles. 4ocean LLC is not just another player in the field, they were the fledgling ocean activism company, and they are taking the world by storm.

It is no surprise to ocean-minded folks that these big salty water bodies are vital for purposes beyond just recreation. Global prosperity and food production are dependent on healthy oceans. Billions of people worldwide rely on healthy oceans to provide reliable employment food security. Healthy oceans trap excess carbon and are vital to mitigating global climate change.

Do you appreciate inhaling fresh air? Well, guess what, some of the smallest ocean inhabitants provide most of the world’s oxygen.

Ecological Plastic Footprint

We intuitively know that we vote with our dollars, and each dollar we spend has an impact on the world. A 2015 Nielsen report in consumer spending showed the sustainability of a brand is a significant force driving the spending habits for more than 66% of global consumers.

It has become clear that a majority of consumers from all backgrounds and representing all income brackets are willing to pay a premium for sustainable brands. Determined to put an end to the international crisis of plastic pollution, 4ocean LLC is fast becoming the world’s largest and most successful ocean cleanup company. The 4ocean business model is brilliantly simple. Buy an eco-friendly beach bracelet, reusable water bottle, or ocean cleanup kit from their online store, and your hard-earned dollars directly fund the 4ocean cleanup operation that has already removed more than 2.2 million pounds of trash from the ocean. The entire 4ocean operation, including boats, cleanup crews, warehouse operations, and paychecks for more than 150 employees, is funded solely by product sales from the 4ocean online store. By supporting 4ocean, your dollar really does make a difference.

4oceans is helping save our oceans now

Read the full article at Idiveblue, click here to read.

NASA Computer models Carbon Dioxide through the atmosphere

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News Science

NASA Computer models Carbon Dioxide through the atmosphere

The new NASA supercomputer project builds on the agency’s satellite measurements of carbon dioxide and combines them with a sophisticated Earth system model to provide one of the most realistic views yet of how this critical greenhouse gas moves through the atmosphere.

Scientists have tracked the rising concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide for decades using ground-based sensors in a few places. A high-resolution visualization of the new combined data product – generated by the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, using data from the agency’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite build and operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California – provides an entirely different perspective.

The 3-D visualization reveals in startling detail the complex patterns in which carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, decreases and moves around the globe over the course of September 2014 to September 2015.


Carbon dioxide plays a significant role in trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere. The gas is released from human activities like burning fossil fuels, and the concentration of carbon dioxide moves and changes through the seasons. Using observations from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) satellite, scientists developed a model of the behavior of carbon in the atmosphere from Sept. 1, 2014, to Aug. 31, 2015. Scientists can use models like this one to better understand and predict where concentrations of carbon dioxide could be especially high or low, based on activity on the ground.

Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/K. Mersmann, M. Radcliff, producers Download this video in HD formats from NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio

Carbon dioxide plays a significant role in trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere. The gas is released from human activities like burning fossil fuels, and the concentration of carbon dioxide moves and changes through the seasons. 

Using observations from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) satellite, scientists developed a model of the behavior of carbon in the atmosphere from September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2015. 

Scientists can use models like this one to better understand and predict where concentrations of carbon dioxide could be especially high or low, based on activity on the ground.

Source of Article NASA

Earthday 2020

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Environment News

Earthday 2020

Earthday 2020 – April 22, 2020 marks 50 years of Earth Day. The first Earth Day sparked the passage in the U.S. of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The urgency has never been greater, and the stakes have never been higher – we are now in an environmental emergency and a climate breakdown. We have two crises: One is the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The other is a slowly building disaster for our climate.

To meet this moment, we must build the largest, most diverse online mobilization in history in defense of the environment. Our world needs a united response for bold action.

  • On Earthday 2020, we say enough is enough.
  • We say we believe in science. We say that everyone can make a difference.
  • We say that the protection of our planet and the wellbeing of the people who live upon it are the top priorities.
  • On Earth Day 2020, we say that we’re committing to vote, we’re registering to vote and we’re showing up to vote.
  • Human health and planetary health are inextricably linked.

Will you join this global movement as we build toward the next half-century of action for our planet?

Over the 24 hours of Earth Day (12:01 am ET – 11:59 pm ET on April 22), Earth Day Network will flood the digital landscape with global conversations, calls to action, performances, video teach-ins and more. That’s where you come in.

On April 22, join us for 24 hours of action on earthday.org as we issue a new call to action every hour for 24 hours. Through 24 hours of action, Earthday 2020 will drive actions big and small, give diverse voices a platform and demand bold action for people and the planet.

Over the 24 hours of Earth Day (12:01 am ET – 11:59 pm ET on April 22), Earth Day Network will fill the digital landscape with global conversations, calls to action, performances, video teach-ins and more. And tune into Earth Day Live on April 22 -24 as millions of people around the world go online for a three-day mobilization to stop the climate emergency. 

Tune in to Earthday Live April 22-24 to watch, discuss and participate in a Livestream featuring stories, performances, and opportunities for digital collective action.

While Earthday may be going digital, our goal remains the same: to mobilize the world to take the most meaningful actions possible to change the world.

Our youth – our hope and joy.

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climate change Environment News

Our youth – our hope and joy.

Talk to our youth, explain to them why our climate change message is important, show them that pollution is now not tolerated and allow them to take steps to protect our planet. We all have a role to play in preventing the polluting of our planet – whether it be in educating, protesting or inspiring.

Climate Impact, since it’s inception has for several months been promoting the message “Stop Polluting our World”, both digitally and also in the physical world. Our aim has been to help to spread the message to all about climate change and the impacts it will have on our daily lives today and tomorrow.

One thing we have been focusing on is litter, as are many others, especially around our home base of Cambridge, New Zealand, where we have been surprised by the constant litter we have seen on or around the roadways. Every time we see rubbish and plastic, we stop and we pick it up.

We have been doing this for months now with my daughter, a young teenager, who has been either with us or overheard our conversations about the climate crisis and the need to take action to protect our towns, country, and the planet.

The other day she returned from walking the dog and to my surprise, she had collected a bag of rubbish from around the local park and brought it home to be put into the bins. I was so proud of her because she had made this decision and taken action by herself. This is what we hope for with our youth – they follow our example, learn and then put it into action.

We must have faith in our youth, they are alot smarter than we give them credit for – they know we have a crisis and must act.

The lesson from this is we need to include our younger generation in this conversation, show them why we need to protect our planet, after all, they are the future of this world. Allow them to listen, understand and then empower them to make their own decisions of what needs to be done.

Take the time to talk to your children and teach them that the planet is important. Pollution is not okay, explain to them we all have a role to play and we must do the best that we can each day.

One day they will surprise you, just as my daughter has!

New Zealand we should Stop, look & Admire more often

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climate change News

New Zealand we should Stop, look & Admire more often

Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how wonderful New Zealand is because we live busy lives, forget to look around and see it. We love living in New Zealand and appreciate its beauty every day.

Once and while look up, stop to remember, you will remember why we fight to protect New Zealand & planet. Please continue to inspire & educate the world.

PLASTIC POLLUTION – 5 Ways you can help tackle it.

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climate change Environment News stopping pollution tips

PLASTIC POLLUTION – 5 Ways you can help tackle it.

A great article from Earthday Blog on plastic pollution. We are going to implement as many of these into our 2020 goals.

The use of plastic in our world is staggering — we as humans have created some 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic, the equivalent 800,000 Eiffel Towers. 

Plastic pollution is a problem because of its long-lasting effects — this petroleum-based, man-made material never fully degrades. According to estimates by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one plastic bottle takes at least 450 years to break down. Recent research suggests that worldwide, only 9 percent of plastics ever made have been recycled.  

With numbers like this, it can be discouraging to try to tackle the problem. We find plastics littered from rivers to streets, ingested by land animals and aquatic species alike. But small lifestyle changes, education and outreach efforts can add up to make a big difference. Here are five individual actions you can take today to cut plastic pollution.

1. Plastic pollution – Reduce, reuse, recycle, refuse

Tossing your plastic package into the recycling bin used to feel like a win, but after China and other Asian countries stopped taking our plastic waste in 2018, these packages have been piling up overseas. The bottom line: Recycling is not as straightforward as many of us once thought

Recycling is tough, but to ensure your recyclable waste gets where it needs to go, check out our 7 common recycling mistakes and tips. Of course, refusing plastics in the first place or opting for alternative products is a surefire way to reduce your impacts.

2. Become a citizen scientist for Earth Day with Earth Challenge 2020 

If you’re itching to become even more active in the fight against plastic pollution, look no further than Earth Challenge 2020, the largest ever citizen science initiative. Earth Challenge 2020 is a mobile app that empowers everyone to be a citizen scientist. Citizen scientists who use the app can enter data and answer a handful of research questions, one of which explores the extent of plastic pollution in their area. 

3. Participate in The Great Global Cleanup

Another exciting opportunity to spearhead the end of plastic pollution is Earth Day Network’s campaign The Great Global Cleanup. This event aims to be “The Largest Environmental Volunteer Event in History” as a celebration of citizen science and the strength of community. There are many existing cleanup events events already in the works. If there is no cleanup already organized in your area, you can register a cleanup of your own. 

4. Support policy change 

While there are many lifestyle shifts and actions that each of us can take as individuals, ending plastic pollution requires a two-pronged approach. This includes innovations in technology and policy changes. The list of cities, states, businesses and entire countries that are placing bans on plastics continues to grow, providing a reason for hope. 

California has become a leader in the United States, becoming the first state to ban single-use plastic bags. Canada also recently pledged to ban single use plasticscompletely by 2021. You can support these global efforts by signing petitions, communicating with your local representatives and supporting coalitions dedicated to stopping plastic pollution.  

5. Take the pledge to End Plastic Pollution

There’s no need to sit idly by while plastic piles up. Knowledge is power, so get educated and spread the word. Take advantage of Earth Day Network’s many resources, such as the Pledge to End Plastic Pollution and plastic calculator. If you enjoy a good read, check out the Plastic Pollution Primer and toolkit

More than 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic are not just going to disappear — steer progress the way you want to see it. Between making your weekly grocery lists, volunteering in your community and spreading the word, bringing down plastic pollution is something we can all tackle together. 

Read our other articles on pollution and what you can do about it.

https://www.climateimpact.co.nz/plastics-will-outweigh-fish-in-the-ocean-how-does-it-affect-you-and-what-should-you-do/
https://www.climateimpact.co.nz/wave-goodbye-to-more-single-use-plastics/

The Earthshot prize – Decade of Action to Repair the Earth

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climate change Environment News World

The Earthshot prize – Decade of Action to Repair the Earth

You know things are starting to hot-up about Climate Change with the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — headed by Prince William and Kate Middleton launch “The Earthshot Prize”

“The earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve.” — The Duke of Cambridge @EarthshotPrize

The Earthshot Prize is a multi-million pound prize for “visionaries” working to solve “Earth’s greatest environmental problems,” from climate change to air pollution. It will be awarded to five winners, every year, for the next 10 years. The goal is to provide “at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest problems by 2030.”

Below is information from their website: https://earthshotprize.org

Over the last ten years, the evidence that we face urgent challenges to protect the environment has become indisputable, and it’s clear that the time to act is now. Drawing inspiration from the concept of moonshots, which since the moon landing in 1969 has become shorthand to talk about the most ambitious and ground-breaking goals, Prince William announces the Earthshot Prize: an ambitious set of challenges to inspire a decade of action to repair the planet.

THE EARTHSHOT PRIZE

A set of unique challenges, rooted in science, will aim to generate new ways of thinking, as well as new technologies, systems, policies and solutions.

Just as the moonshot that John F. Kennedy proposed in the 1960s catalysed new technology such as the MRI scanner and satellite dishes, we want our Earthshot challenges to create a new wave of ambition and innovation around finding ways to help save the planet.

The challenges will be a chance for everyone’s voice to be heard, we want to motivate and inspire a new generation of thinkers, leaders and dreamers .

Our prizes will reward progress across all sectors of industry and society, not just technology.

The prizes could be awarded to a wide range of individuals, teams or collaborations – scientists, activists, economists, leaders, governments, banks, businesses, cities, and countries – anyone who is making a substantial development or outstanding contribution to solving our environmental challenges.

So this is a message to all of us – time to take this issue seriously.

Energy hardship – Redefining measurement

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Energy News

Energy hardship – Redefining measurement

In the last 15 years ‘fuel poverty’ – otherwise known as energy hardship – has been variously estimated at anywhere between less than 100,000 to over 400,000 households. See here for a summary of some of the attempts.

This ‘10% threshold’ discussion below has been written by Ian McChesney. Ian is deeply experienced in the community energy sector, having co-founded CEN member CEA in 1994. He was CEA’s representative on the forerunner to CEN (EECN – Energy Efficiency Community Network) and has recently worked with CEN on their response to the Healthy Homes Standards and the Electricity Pricing Review (EPR).

The Government has accepted the EPR recommendation asking for a better definition of energy hardship to be developed so that New Zealand knows how best to provide energy  for those who need it most, improving the health of our communities.

The fact that we don’t really know an exact number is a stark indication of the lack of clarity and understanding around this issue and why this has been reflected by piecemeal policies.

No one knows better than the energy service providers in the community energy sector just how incoherent home retrofit funding policies have been over the last 10 years. Household eligibility, fundable measures and subsidised rates have chopped and changed with little apparent rationale. And the result of this is that our most at-risk communities desperately need the Government to deliver on its promise of providing wellbeing through eliminating energy hardship.

For example, the winter fuel payment – with its $450M price tag – is a great initiative for those that need it, but it has been applied with such a broad brush that inevitably questions about focus, effectiveness and sustainability have been raised.

Although the lack of an agreed, durable definition of energy hardship isn’t the sole reason for this situation, the reality is that those of us working in the community energy sector see that this inability to anchor regulatory and funding policies within a coherent and stable policy framework is a significant contributor.

Banishing The ‘10% threshold’ – Ian McChesney

To date the fall-back position adopted widely in New Zealand is to define energy hardship by the 10% threshold. This is where a household that spends over 10% of their income on energy is considered to be in energy hardship.

It’s easy to see how the 10% threshold focus took hold – in 2001 the UK government adopted a formal definition of fuel poverty stating that a fuel poor household is one which ‘needs to spend more than 10% of its income on all fuel use and to heat its home to an adequate standard of warmth’.

However, what is far less well understood is how this ‘definition’ has been consistently misused in Aotearoa and why it is ineffectual as a measure of energy hardship.

Here are four key issues:

  1. 10% may have been relevant to the UK, but what about New Zealand? The original concept came about in the early 1990s from fuel poverty pioneer Brenda Boardman. Boardman determined that for the 30% of households in the UK with the lowest incomes, fuel costs averaged 10% of their total expenditure. For all households the average was 5%; hence 10% also conformed with a ‘double the average’ rule-of-thumb for indicating vulnerability. Thus in the context of the UK at that time 10% of expenditure was deemed to be an affordability threshold.

    Yet seemingly there has been little thought as to whether the basis for setting the 10% applies to our own experience in Aotearoa. Comparable expenditure: income ratios appear to be in the range of 7-8%, raising questions from the start whether the 10% threshold ever had any validity here?
  2. Required vs actual energy expenditure – the UK definition specified the 10% expenditure threshold as ‘required’ energy, not actual expenditure. Required energy is that needed to maintain a warm, dry and healthy home, taking account of the efficiency of the house and the cost of energy. Yet the required energy can be a far cry from that actually spent by income-poor and constrained households. In 2009 in the UK, the required energy expenditure for the 20% of households with the lowest incomes was 50% higher than actual expenditure. Yet, as commonly used in NZ, the 10% threshold is based on actual expenditure, largely because this data is readily available whereas determining required energy is complex.  Therefore, a large number of households that are in real energy hardship because they reduce their energy use and live in energy deprivation, are not counted when actual energy expenditure is used.
  3. Defining energy hardship by a single threshold is too simplistic – We know from experience when visiting households that a single threshold – in energy hardship or not – just doesn’t do justice to energy hardship realities. For example, setting single thresholds means excluding households that sit just below the threshold line. But for many of these households their energy hardship circumstances are often just as acute.
  4. The definition is out of date – Tellingly, in 2011, the UK government reviewed the definition of energy hardship, following growing dissatisfaction with the seeming lack of progress towards national fuel poverty goals. It was replaced in England by a low income-high-energy cost definition. Even then, this has not proven to be durable and consultation for a further definition change (to low income- low energy efficiency) was carried out during 2019. In the EU, after much debate, their preferred term ‘energy poverty’ has been given a descriptive definition, and will be assessed by a range of indicators, not just one.

While any one of these issues should be enough to raise serious misgivings about the use of the 10% threshold in New Zealand, with all four combined, it is paramount that we let go of this ‘definition’ for good.  That it has endured for so long speaks volumes about the policy ‘catch up’ New Zealand needs to make

Community Energy Network

CEN comment: By continuing to use the 10% threshold, New Zealand is behind the times and we need to work hard in 2020 to ensure we are achieving the best outcomes for our communities. That’s why we encourage the government to dig deeper to provide a definition that recognises the complexity of energy hardship, will be functional, durable, and useful for establishing effective policy and making the right funding decisions.

Want to learn more? Stay tuned for Ian’s next blog about what a better definition could look like and why CEN advocates for taking a more sophisticated approach to fix this systemic issue.

Single use plastics – Say goodbye to more

Categories
climate change Environment New Zealand News

Single use plastics – Say goodbye to more

Everyone is focused on climate change & global warming, the big issue we face today is man-made pollution and single use plastics need to be addressed.

The more we see governments addressing the problem of pollution the better. Ignoring the problem of plastics pollution is no longer an option.

We are heartened to see that the world is starting to see the impact we have had on the planet over the last 50years.

The New Zealand Government is looking to phase out more single-use plastics, following the success of the single use bag ban earlier this year. 1newsnow reports.

A report titled ‘Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand’ has also been released which outlines how the Government intends on dealing with waste.

The single-use plastics ban is targeted at containers made of hard-to-recycle PVC and polystyrene like meat trays, cups and takeaway food containers.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the ban on plastic bags has already made a difference. 

Many New Zealanders, including many children, write to me about plastic – concerned with its proliferation over the past decade and the mounting waste ending up in our oceans,”

says Ms Ardern.

Roadside collection of recyclables will also be improved for more consistent collections. 

The move mirrors requests from respondents in a 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll in which eighty-two per cent thought the single-use plastic bag ban that came into force in July, should extend to other single-use plastics.

Click here to read the full article

Is climate change real?

Categories
climate change Environment News

Is climate change real?

That is to say – is climate change something we have created as the “human race” or is it a natural phenomenon getting blown out of all proportion?

Personally I am not sure – so join us as we look to investigate the science (and myths) about climate change 2019 and onwards. It is very hard to believe what you read, hear or see with much of the science being skewed to benefit certain causes or create certain messages. We are not saying they are incorrect – but let’s examine the issues and make our own conclusions.

So where to begin on Climate change?

We will go back to basics on climate change by looking at CO2 emissions, what are they? (we’ll look at the breakdown of our atmosphere and what part CO2 plays), How are they building up? What effects do they have now and then in the future? And finally the most important question: Are CO2 emissions causing global warming?

Another important question that we will really try to answer is in regards to the relationship between CO2 and temperature, is there a direct correlation between the “greenhouse effect” and the rising temperatures of the planet or is the scientific community making assumptions that rising CO2 is driving the temperature up? Could it be that our planet is going through a cyclic temperature change therefore creating more CO2 along the way? We can look back to historical data and trends to see any emerging patterns.

Then we will look at population growth of the world, how does more people in the world change the dynamics of climate change? What is the formula for population vs CO2 emissions and how can we change this equation?

Pollution

Then we will look at pollution which we think this is our biggest problem facing the human race today. How has pollution changed our planet and they way we live? How can we fix the issue of pollution?

Finally we will ask the big questions such as is climate change preventable or has it already passed the “tipping point”? How can we help to change things or are the problems bigger than us and need to be fixed by governments?. What should we do to stop climate change?

So visit us every so often or join our mailing list and we will try to provide discussion points and hopefully some answers along the way.

Energy Hardship, living with it in New Zealand

Categories
Energy News

Energy Hardship, living with it in New Zealand

People living in energy hardship live in homes that perform so poorly that the cost of keeping the home warm and dry (and have hot water when they need it) is too high.

Lining up with the dynamics of economic poverty, energy hardship comes from having a home that is hard to heat and keep dry, which then usually leads to the growth of harmful mould. The reason this is so problematic for the health of society is because damp, cold and mouldy homes create the perfect conditions for a large range of diseases, particularly respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and bronchiolitis.

Anyone who is cold becomes more susceptible to these illnesses and it impacts on physical and mental health, particularly for children. This also effects the ability to learn for kids or for adults be able to maintain stable employment and a good level of overall wellbeing.

How do we address the problem

Tackling energy hardship isn’t just about fixing the house. Instead, it is about combining the fixing of the physical infrastructure with behavior change. In CEN’s experience in assessing and insulating over 150,000 New Zealand homes, we have found there are often behaviours that make the housing issues worse. This includes as drying clothes inside, not removing the mould when you see it, and, leaving windows open during the daytime. The ability to pay, at any price, for the energy is also a key issue. It’s why in New Zealand to address energy hardship, we must find ways to make energy more affordable for everyone.

Energy hardship is best addressed when we fix the technical issues with the house, educate the residents to change behaviours and make the energy itself as affordable as possible (more on that latter). 

Why community energy is key for taking people out of energy hardship

The Government implemented the Energy Price Review, which was completed in May 2019. As part of the consultation round during this review, several options for addressing energy hardship were presented. One of the best ideas was to establish an Energy Hardship Group. This is a group made up of Government Ministries, industry stakeholders and, hopefully, NGOs that are working directly with people in the community. These are organisations such as Salvation ArmyFinCapCommunity Housing AotearoaHabitat for Humanity, the Wise Group (mental health) and CEN, of course.

The function of this group would be to advise Government on those policies and funding options that would have the biggest, most effective impact on delivering improved wellbeing of those in energy hardship. As we’ve seen with programmes dealing with homelessness in recent years, when agencies work together to provide a cohesive wrap around service, we see the optimal outcomes.

There are many overseas examples of where this has been done well and CEN advocates that New Zealand must follow these international roadmaps. Programmes such as Home Energy Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government,  and the EU Energy Poverty Observatory, which provides a wide range of both technical, economic and social policy guidance.

By weaving together multiple threads, we can quickly make large inroads into reducing energy hardship. It’ s why the Energy Hardship Group, that has been an accepted recommendation from the EPR report, may well provide the cohesion this approach needs.

Aside from making sure the social services sector work cohesively, housing is healthy and energy affordable, we also need to look at how New Zealand communities can engage in their own energy generation, storage and use. This creates an Energy Democracy – the concept of which will be discussed in our next blog.

Read more on CEN’s latest article on energy hardship – refining measurement

To learn more about the work of CEN, contact us.

Community Energy Network

Energy Democracy, communities owning Energy networks

Categories
Energy News

Energy Democracy, communities owning Energy networks

Energy democracy is the idea that New Zealand can shift from a centralised, top-down provision of energy to one that prioritises deep engagement and local decision-making for communities to literally “own” their energy network.

The reason this is so important is not only because it helps to give a resilient supply of electricity, but it also quickly addresses inequity because all community members can engage in the process.

What does it look like?

The CEN version of energy democracy is about each community owning as much of their renewable energy generation, storage and use infrastructure as they can. This enables them to then make decisions about how much power costs and how to spend any profits on the specific needs of their community.

CEN’s last blog on Energy Hardship was about the need to fix the homes and support the people so that that they can stay healthy in warm and dry homes. Alongside making our homes as effective and efficient as they can be, the cost of energy probably has the biggest impact on the level of energy hardship people face.

Why we need people to get on board…

Right now, many people are disengaged with how they get their energy and what they can do to reduce their costs. CEN even argues that most of us don’t even know how to read and understand our power bills. This makes it hard to talk about the value of making changes to the way we use energy or even to how we produce it.

This lack of engagement is, at least partially, because features of the system, including the different generation profiles, the wholesale market, how the grid is managed, and complicated pricing structures all providing a disincentive for people to get engaged.

If we’re going to address energy hardship and if we want our communities to take ownership of their future and become more resilient, this needs to change.

The international landscape…

The good news is we don’t need to start from scratch. In fact, despite having the world’s first Wellbeing budget, New Zealand is behind the game on uptake of community energy. Most, if not all the countries we would benchmark ourselves against are well advanced in developing a community energy sector. This includes the European UnionUKUSA and even our cousins over the ditch.

The other good news is the Government has accepted many of the Price Review’s recommendations. We are looking forward to supporting the roll out of many of these recommendations.

To learn more about the work of CEN, contact us.

Community Energy Network

Can science and tourism save the reef?

Categories
Environment News World

Can science and tourism save the reef?

The World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Risk Report was dominated by climate change and environmental disasters, and the world has recently watched this play out across the globe, from cyclones battering Mozambique to extreme flooding in the US Midwest. Heat waves have been hotter, droughts have been dryer and storm surges have been higher. Temperature records have been repeatedly smashed across the planet.

Queensland, home to the Great Barrier Reef, has seen bushfires, extreme heatwaves, a tropical cyclone, record rainfall and extreme flooding in the last nine months alone.

Yet climate experts believe that all this is just the precursor to something far worse. According to a 2018 study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), human activities have currently caused around 1°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels. At this level, coral reefs have been hit hard by heat stress and have experienced large-scale mortalities.

“In the last three years alone (2016–2018), large coral reef systems such as the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) have lost as much as 50% of their shallow water corals,” the IPCC study reports.

But if global warming rises by an additional degree (to 2°C above pre-industrial levels), the study says, there will be unprecedented consequences: 99% of coral reefs across the world’s tropical and sub-tropical oceans will disappear. And even if countries around the world adhere to the Paris Agreement (to pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels), the world will still lose 70–90% of reef-building corals compared to today.

These are sobering statistics, which hit home even harder when you see the evidence for yourself.

Dive in the northern parts of the Great Barrier Reef, north of Townsville, and you may be greeted by ghostly swathes of pure white staghorn coral, likely bleached in one of the back-to-back bleaching events caused by rising sea temperatures in 2016 and 2017.

Elsewhere you might see thick clusters of purplish-blue or reddish-grey crown-of-thorns starfish, covered in venomous barbs. These starfish occur naturally in low numbers on the Great Barrier and other coral reefs, and play a part in the reef ecosystem by helping to maintain coral species diversity. However, recent years have seen an explosion in their numbers, likely caused by overfishing of their natural predators or increased nutrients in the water due to agricultural runoff into the ocean.

When outbreaks occur, crown-of-thorns starfish are no longer just feeding on the coral, but stripping entire reefs bare.

Read more of this article, it again shows how the environment is changing, whether it be through our intervention or not, the facts are the planet is warming and we need to start to think of creative ways to protect the wonders of our planet. Click here to read more from BBC Travel 

A simple thing we can do to make a difference

Categories
New Zealand News

A simple thing we can do to make a difference

Here in New Zealand litter is becoming a big problem. But it’s a big problem with a small, simple solution. Let’s all take some responsibility for putting rubbish in its place.

When you are about to drop a piece of litter – don’t even think about it. Even if you are alone – you’re not – we’re all in this together. If you see someone else about to litter – just let them know – litter goes in the right place because it’s just how we do things around here.

This is the message from Band Together – Be a tidy Kiwi.

This is the message from Band Together

Be A tidy Kiwi

How to erase 100 years of carbon emissions? Plant trees – lots of them.

Categories
Environment News

How to erase 100 years of carbon emissions? Plant trees – lots of them.

BY STEPHEN LEAHY – National Geographic. PUBLISHED JULY 4, 2019


An area the size of the United States could be restored as forests with the potential of erasing nearly 100 years of carbon emissions, according to the first ever study to determine how many trees the Earth could support.

Published today in Science, “The global tree restoration potential” report found that there is enough suitable land to increase the world’s forest cover by one-third without affecting existing cities or agriculture. However, the amount of suitable land area diminishes as global temperatures rise. Even if global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the area available for forest restoration could be reduced by a fifth by 2050 because it would be too warm for some tropical forests.

“Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today,” said Tom Crowther, a researcher at ETH Zürich, and senior author of the study.

That does not alter the vital importance of protecting existing forests and phasing out fossil fuels since new forests would take decades to mature, Crowther said in a statement.Get more of the inspiring photos and stories we’re known for, plus special offers. 

If we don’t make fundamental changes, conditions for humanity will only get worse.

ROBIN CHAZDON, ECOLOGIST AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT

“If we act now, this could cut carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by up to 25 percent, to levels last seen almost a century ago,” he says.

It could take more than a hundred years to add enough mature forest to get sufficient levels of carbon reduction. Meanwhile 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels are being added to the atmosphere every year, said Glen Peters, research director at Norway’s Center for International Climate Research.

Click here to read the full article.

Sir David Attenborough praises plastic-free Glastonbury Festival

Categories
News World

Sir David Attenborough praises plastic-free Glastonbury Festival

Sir David Attenborough has made a surprise appearance at Glastonbury Festival. The renowned UK broadcaster and historian, 93, thanked attendees for making the music festival plastic-free.

There are legends, then there is David Attenborough

Richard Hayes

He said: “There was one sequence in Blue Planet II which everyone seems to remember. It was one in which we showed what plastic has done to the creatures that live in the ocean.

“It had an extraordinary effect, and now this great festival has gone plastic-free. It means more than a million bottles of water have not been drunk by you in plastic.”

Sir David also previewed part of his new BBC television series Seven Worlds, One Planet, before Australian singer Kylie Minogue was due to perform.