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Five key takeaways from new Climate Change Commission reports

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Hot off the press, the Climate Change Commission has published three major reports as part of the regular reviews it undertakes of the country’s climate targets.


Here’s the run down.


Climate change is worsening at a much faster rate than expected, but New Zealand is also making more progress toward our decarbonisation targets than expected. This gives us an opportunity to be more ambitious on climate action and to embed systemic change. We should use this opportunity to strengthen our currently off-track methane emission targets, and to investigate including emissions from international shipping and aviation into our national targets.


Moving on, we highlight an area that we will all feel the effects of worsening climate change – home insurance. Here in New Zealand, home insurance premiums jumped by more than 30 percent in a year in some parts of the country, largely due to the associated climate change risks. This is just a taste of what’s to come.


We can see what the future holds by looking at the home insurance market in America. It’s crumbling! Not only has the cost of home insurance premiums skyrocketed, but some insurance providers have pulled out of states entirely because of increased climate change risks. And why wouldn’t they? To give an example, the value of a 2.3 million US dollar home plummeted to a 600 thousand dollar asking price in a few weeks due to coastal erosion.

It poses the question – as people pull away from the coasts and areas prone to floods and landslips, who is going to bear the brunt of the cost of managed retreat?


In other news, museums are looking at ways to improve their energy efficiency and energy management processes as rising temperatures pose new challenges for preserving artifacts. AI is also in the news for energy, but for their gigantic energy demand. Did you know that a single ChatGPT request uses roughly 900 times more energy than a google search?


Analysis has revealed that just 57 companies are linked to 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions since 2016, which includes the recent surge of emissions from state-owned producers. These highly profitable emissions-intensive companies are a stark contrast to unpaid environmental works, which disproportionally affects indigenous communities.


And what about companies doing things right? In a market where sustainability issues are at the top of consumers’ minds, why is it that sustainable brands such as Body Shop failing? A lesson to be learned – activism must be backed with brand bravery.


To wrap things up, did you know that there are methane emissions associated with hydroelectricity? Some lakes contain so much methane that they periodically catch on fire! Sounds concerning, but there is opportunity here to harness the gas for energy production.


Looking for a software tool to measure and reduce your emissions? We've got tips to help you choose.



Here is the full list of articles...


In our headline article, we share five key takeaways from new Climate Change Commission reports. Chief among them is a warning that climate change is getting worse faster than expected and we should consider strengthening our 2050 targets. While our Zero Carbon Act was near world leading when it passed in 2019, many countries have now surpassed us with their commitments and we should consider going further, too. Acting ambitiously on climate change will be better for society and the economy than a business-as-usual scenario. Read more…


Insurance is critical part of property ownership, with rises in home insurance premiums of up to 30% in some areas of NZ. It raises concerns about the long-term affordability of it and how protected property owners can be, especially in areas that have experienced climate related impacts. With a number of natural disasters and large payouts to affected property owners, insurance companies are now considering if they can provide cover in these areas. And this on top of the increasing costs of rebuilding a damage dwelling.  Read more…


Looking to America, ‘The home insurance market is crumbling’. As climate change increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather, insurers — especially those in areas most impacted by floods and fires are raising their premiums, or pulling out altogether, impacting the affordability and availability of home and fire insurance. 6 million homeowners chose to forgo homeowners insurance, according to a report from the Consumer Federation of America. That’s about 7.4% of all homeowners in the country and amounts to about $1.6 trillion of unprotected value!  Read more…


Drastic beach side erosion has seen a property listed at $2.3 million on the coast of Nantucket in the US have it’s asking priced slash by 74%. While the new owner is happy with the home and location, he was “definitely aware of the risk of any particular storm causing a problem in the future”. This is just one example of climate change impacting property prices first hand. How much, if anything, will the property be worth in the coming years? Read more…


There are often more museums than we realise, which are very carbon intensive due to their special needs for preservation of artifacts through climate control and therefore energy use. This impact is compounded by the coastal locations of many museums in the face of climate change. Though given museums trusted role in the public discourse, their responses can have a ripple effect capable of legitimising the necessary responses to climate change throughout society. Read more…


Artificial Intelligence is the future. Or is it? We’re experiencing in an “AI Summer”, in which the industry is thriving thanks to innovation and new applications of the technology. But there is a hidden cost to every search, chat, and implementation of generative AI. It leads all the way to data centres, and the doubling of the use of electricity for generative AI by 2026. This article offers practical explanations of the challenges caused by growing AI usage and what we might do about it. Read more…


A mere 57 oil, gas, coal, and cement producers are directly linked to 80% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since the 2016 Paris Agreement, a study has shown.  Although governments pledged in Paris to cut greenhouse gases, the analysis reveals that most mega-producers increased their output of fossil fuels and related emissions in the seven years after that climate agreement.  And of those companies 56% are state entities, showing that many governments have little regard for their climate damaging emissions despite signing the agreement to do the opposite. Read more…


Much of the grassroots activity of addressing climate change and protecting the environment/biodiversity is done by indigenous people.  And yet they largely do that out of a sense of purpose and necessity, with their efforts lacking compensation.  A new paper published by Cambridge University Press called ‘Wages for Earthwork’, where ‘earthwork’ being the term used to describe labour that takes care of the planet and provides benefits to all, argues they should be compensated.  The hypocrisy of the top 57 emitters getting paid to pollute, but those trying to clean up the mess don’t is deafening. Read more…


“Recycled, organic, cruelty-free!” Consumers have become inundated with sustainability buzzwords and empty promises that their purchase will mean something. It wasn’t always this way. In 1976, The Body Shop rose to fame through radical activism, railing against animal testing and pushing fair trade. Decades later the cosmetics giant is closing its doors, although demand for sustainable products is higher than ever. The Body Shop’s legacy now serves as a warning: failure to put your money where your mouth is may be a death sentence in today’s consumer market. Read more…


We often think of hydro power as a source of green renewable energy, but the process generates significant methane emissions which are 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide for global warming. Aerated water creates cerate's bubbles of degassed methane and contributes about 6% of the world's methane emissions, though it may now be possible to capture the methane before it escapes and to utilise this as a non-fossil source of biogas. Read more…




This week we have the following innovation articles we hope you find interesting:





Hydrology Report - 11 April 2024




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Did you know: You can display your organisation’s sustainability data on your website or intranet using our carbon management software, e-Bench? Read more…


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