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Climate Change

We listened to our community when they said they wanted our council to take more meaningful actions MelanieBarthe1towards mitigating the effects of climate change.

Our Climate Change Advisor, Mélanie Barthe was appointed in September 2019 to write a strategy for Carterton District Council and South Wairarapa District Council outlining what meaningful action they can take to reduce the effects of climate change in their daily council operations. The strategy is due for completion before mid 2020.

In the meantime, Mélanie has also created some resources to help the community play its part.

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What is Climate Change?

Atmosphere composition

Earth’s atmosphere is made up of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%), and a small percentage of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).

Greenhouse effect

Greenhouse gases trap warmth from the sun and make life on Earth possible. Without the influence of the greenhouse effect on our planet, the average surface temperature would be -18°C (average temperature on Earth with the greenhouse effect is 15°C).

What causes Climate Change?

The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has risen quickly over the last 150 years (since the industrial revolution) because of fossil fuels burning, deforestation etc. The temperature is correlated to the CO2 concentration as shown in the graphs below.

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What are the impacts of Climate Change for Wairarapa?

Coastal hazards: Increased risk to coastal roads and infrastructure from coastal erosion and inundation, increased storminess and sea-level rise.

Heavy rain: Increased risk of surface flooding. River flooding may also become more frequent and more intense.

Erosion and landslides: Increased risk of erosion and landslides.

Droughts: More frequent droughts are likely to lead to water shortages, increased demand for irrigation and increased risk of wild fires.

Agriculture: Warmer temperatures, a longer growing season and fewer frosts could provide opportunities to grow new crops. Farmers might benefit from faster growth of pasture and better crop growing conditions. However, these benefits may be limited by the negative effects of Climate Change such as prolonged drought, water shortages and greater frequency and intensity of storms.

Biosecurity: Climate Change could lead to changes in pests and diseases over time. A likely increase in weed species and subtropical pests and diseases could require new pest management approaches. Biodiversity may be threatened by changing temperature and rainfall patterns, and sea level rise.

Biodiversity: Biodiversity is suffering from Climate Change due to the rate of change. It is very fast compared to historic change species have experienced.

Ocean acidification: Because the ocean absorbs a huge quantity of the CO2 released in the atmosphere, it becomes more and more acidic. This impacts negatively on all marine species, especially shellfish such as kina and paua.

View the full community guide for reducing effects of climate change

Click here to view our full guide.

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