Parliament has a chance this afternoon to do something to prevent more of the destructive storms that have been lashing the country, says Forest & Bird.
“In the past month we’ve had three huge storms that have left hundreds of people homeless, and have also destroyed the habitats of our precious native wildlife,” says climate advocate Adelia Hallett.
“Today, MPs have a chance to take real action to prevent these storms becoming even more powerful and frequent."
Parliament is due to hold a special debate at 3pm today on a report that outlines ways in which New Zealand can become carbon-neutral by the second half of the century. The report, commissioned by a cross-Parliamentary group of MPs from London-based Vivid Economics, says that it might even be possible to be carbon-neutral by 2050.
Forest & Bird are urging all parties to support the urgent implementation of the Vivid Report recommendations.
Ms Hallett says the intense storms which have hit the country in the past month are exactly the type of climate-change impacts that scientists have predicted.
“Humans have already caused the climate to warm 1 degree since the Industrial Revolution, and March was one of the warmest and wettest ever recorded,” Ms Hallett said.
“Expert after expert – the latest being the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser in a report yesterday - is warning us of the dire consequences of allowing the climate to warm much further, and the only way to avoid that is to cut emissions now.
“We have heard a lot from some people about the economic costs of taking action on climate change. Now we’re starting to see the costs – not only to the economy, but also to society and to nature – of not taking action. Are the people who say we don’t need to cut emissions prepared to put their hands in their pockets to pay for the damage we are seeing in the Bay of Plenty?
“Probably not, but what they must do is support urgent and deep emissions cuts, and Parliament has the opportunity today to get the ball rolling.”
New Zealand’s native species, already seriously threatened by habitat loss and attacks from introduced predators, are further endangered by the impacts of climate change. Threats include:
• Death by drowning during storms or from starvation and dehydration in droughts.
• Habitat destruction, as vegetation is swept away in floods or dies in droughts, and the stony river-bottoms where our native fish live become clogged with sediment.
• Changes to the physical conditions, such as temperatures, which our native species have evolved with. For example, a rise in average temperatures will result in more male tuatara hatching, and fewer female, with long-term population consequences, and changing ocean temperatures and acidity as a result of climate change will affect the ability of shellfish to form shells.
• Storms affecting the ability of birds to migrate and to feed at sea.