We know that climate change is happening. The challenge facing us is what we do about it: defining our role and identifying where we can have the most influence and impact.  

Action on climate change is needed in both terms of mitigation (reducing our contribution to climate change through, for example, reducing carbon emissions) and adaptation (responding to the changes we are already seeing and will continue to encounter, even with a global reduction in future emissions).       

New Zealand temperature records show an increase of around one degree Celsius over the last 100 years. Sea level rise is another indicator of warming temperatures. Recordings from Moturiki Island, off Mt Maunganui, show sea levels there have risen 11 centimetres since 1950, an average rise of 1.9 millimetres a year, which matches the average global increase.

How it affects us

View a chart showing the likely impacts of climate change on the Bay of Plenty.

What we are doing

Bay of Plenty Regional Council supports Government policy in the management of greenhouse gases.

What you can do

You can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and minimise your carbon footprint.

Why is our climate changing?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms that changes in our climate are very likely caused by increased volumes of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane, in the atmosphere.

Ordinarily, solar energy from the sun passes through the Earth's atmosphere, and is absorbed at the surface. As it warms, the surface emits infra-red radiation. Most of that radiation is absorbed by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but enough escapes it to balance the net incoming solar energy. Over the long term, this equilibrium keeps temperatures relatively stable.

But when the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases, more radiation is trapped, and some of it is re-directed back to the lower atmosphere and surface. This drives the climate to a new, warmer balance.

The most abundant greenhouse gases are water vapour, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and ozone. The increase in carbon dioxide is mainly the result of our burning more fossil fuels, such as petroleum and coal, even as we fell more and more forests, which would otherwise have helped absorb those gases.

In New Zealand, nearly half of our greenhouse gas emissions – mostly methane and nitrous oxides – come from livestock and fertiliser use.