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A Climate Emergency?

So, Auckland Council have declared a “Climate Emergency”.

In the words of Councillor Penny Hulse, chair of Auckland Council’s Environment and Community committee, this declaration is “a call to action for Council to take seriously, its role in climate change.”  She went on to say that Council needs to “… make sure that all policies we set and budgets we set, are set with a climate change lens in mind.”

That is signalling a clear intention to take action.  But it’s not actually taking action is it?

If the emergency were say, seismic readings indicating an increased likelihood of a volcanic eruption, then for sure, Civil Defence would be activated and we would see real actions aimed at protecting Auckland’s population and property.

To be fair to Council, they are taking some actions around climate change.  They have drafted a plan – the Auckland Climate Action Plan (ACAP) – that will go out to public consultation in July/August.  They adopted the Auckland Plan and Unitary Plans adopted in 2018.  Then they have plans in development around: Strategic Asset Management; Measuring Asset Performance; establishing a Landslide remediation fund; profiling spatial dimension community asset risks (flooding); a Natural Hazards Risk Management Action Plan; a Natural Hazards Research Plan and plans for Coastal Compartment Management.

They have implemented a Live Lightly programme, a Sustainable Schools Plan and a Waste Management & Minimisation Plan. 

The current state of Council’s Climate Change mitigation and adaptation actions is an impressive list of plans but contains little in the way of what is needed – actual climate mitigation actions.

Some people will leap to Auckland Council’s defence and say that I am being unfair, that the thinking and planning work needs to be done before actions are implemented.  They are right, that desktop work does need to be done.  But.

Actually, action is required to mitigate the drivers of global warming.
(excerpt from Auckland Council report “Climate Change Risks in Auckland”

Can we afford to wait to see if these plans and intentions translate to an actual reduction in Auckland’s emissions?  If the emergency were say, seismic readings indicating an increased likelihood of a volcanic eruption, then for sure, Civil Defence would be activated and we would see real actions aimed at protecting.

Perhaps Council see no hope for mitigation actions having an impact worthy of going for.  That seems so in the framing of this header in their risk assessment report.

This may be why their report Climate Change Risks in Auckland focuses more on adaptation and less on mitigation.  Perhaps that too is unfair on Council, for the report is a risk assessment and as they say in the report, “Understanding the climate change risks and impacts on vulnerability for Auckland is imperative to both mitigate and adapt to climate change and to inform planning and decision making.”  

If it leads to a new climate change lens, where the word “URGENT” is writ large across it, then perhaps we will do what needs to be done – to reduce fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

Actually, taking mitigation actions is not that difficult.  As we have experienced in many of the St Andrews events and projects this past year or three:

  • Our Earth Day events have been carbon negative – we have sequestered more atmospheric CO2 than was emitted in the running of the events plus that emitted by all the people attending them.
  • Our communal food garden has
    • provided food-miles-free food
    • not required any artificial fertilisers
    • used no town-supply water even given the particularly dry summer we just had
    • reduced wastes going to landfill with kitchen waste from parish events going to the worm farm plus garden waste going to the compost
    • provide an opportunity for local people to gather as Friends of St Andrew’s Food Garden
  • Six “Grow Your Own Food” courses have taught many people how to increase their self-resilience.

These are all real climate actions that any parish can implement. For advice on how your parish can do similar things, call the Sustainability Fieldworker, John, on 021 46 36 86.

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Climate Action Q&A #5

and this Little Piggy went Wee Wee Wee, all the way home.

Q: Little Piggy’s home is in Wellington. Do you think it is better for Little Piggy to go there by car, plane or train?

——

Which means of transport has the least impact on climate change.

A: Driving a petrol car, Little Piggy would put 127 Kg Carbon Dioxide* in to the atmosphere. That is a lot more than flying (71 kg**). Taking the bus would be better, (44 Kg***) and the train better again (25 Kg****).

But driving a battery electric vehicle is the best for cherishing our earth – only 15 Kg of carbon dioxide*****.

Something to remember when you think about buying a new electric vehicle – there is a lot of carbon embedded in the car before you drive it out of the showroom. How many kilometres of do you need to drive before the embedded carbon is recovered in savings per kilometre? This is called the carbon payback distance.

For a Nissan Leaf, that is 8,000 Km – less than a year’s driving for most of us. A Tesla however, has a carbon payback period of around 35,000 Km – perhaps 3 – 4 years of driving.


Based on MfE emissions factor (EF) data and:
* Road distance Auckland – Wellington is 639 km, EF (petrol) = 0.1984 KG CO2/Km
** Air distance Auckland – Wellington is 480 km, EF (petrol) = 0.1474 KG CO2/Km
*** Bus distance Auckland – Wellington is 666 km, EF (petrol) = 0.066 KG CO2/Km
**** Train distance Auckland – Wellington is 682 km, EF (petrol) = 0.036 KG CO2/Km
***** Road distance Auckland – Wellington is 639 km, EF (battery EV) = 0.024 KG CO2/Km


This series of posts is based around a resource prepared by Anglicans CAN for an Expo organised by Community Networks Franklin

keep reading for more about this Anglicans CAN climate action

Climate Action Q&A #4

This Little Piggy had none…

Q: What impact do the foods we eat have on our climate?

——

A: Plenty.  And we need to do something about that.

The global average carbon footprint for beef is 26.6 Kg CO2/Kg beef. New Zealand’s pasture-based beef has a footprint less than half of this. Compare this to crayfish with a carbon footprint of 27.8 Kg CO2/Kg fish or sole at 20.8 Kg CO2/Kg fish.

By the time your beef gets to the kitchen bench, it’s carbon footprint is typically three times that of the production on farms.  Making farmers accountable for all of beef’s off-farm emissions is not what a just transition needs to be about.

The solution is a localised food production system focused on organic, seasonal and fresh foods that include some meat but mainly vegetable.

Also, did you know that taking dairy out of our diet and replacing the minerals and nutrients with alternatives, results in the same or only slightly lowered carbon footprint?


Growing Your Own Food is something that each of us can do as a climate action.  St Andrews Anglican Church have a community learning and demonstration garden and offer a Grow Your Own Food course for beginners. 

The communal food garden at St Andrews Pukekohe. Note the rain water collection system (left) and the composting system (on the far side of the raised pallet-bed.


This series of posts is based around a resource prepared by Anglicans CAN for an Expo organised by Community Networks Franklin

keep reading for more about this Anglicans CAN climate action

Climate Action Q&A #3

This Little Piggy had roast beef…

Q: Is eating beef bad for the planet?

——

A: The short answer is no, eating beef is not bad for the planet.

Reducing our beef consumption would be good for our health, but New Zealand beef is better for the planet than beef grown in other parts of the world.

The problem that needs fixing is with how some farmers grow their beef.

Also, we need to consider that around two thirds of the carbon in that steak on our plate, is from off-farm activities – the butchering, packaging and distribution.



This series of posts is based around a resource prepared by Anglicans CAN for an Expo organised by Community Networks Franklin

keep reading for more about this Anglicans CAN climate action

Climate Action Q&A #2

This Little Piggy stayed home…

Q: How can we take carbon out of the atmosphere?

——

A:  If Little Piggy stayed home to plant trees and make biochar, then a lot of carbon dioxide would be taken out of the atmosphere each year.

That would be around 3,200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide*** removed from the atmosphere by 2030 if each of us planted one hardwood tree today.

BTW: if Little Piggy planted native trees instead of exotic hardwoods,
then much less carbon would be removed (around four fifths or
80% less*** than exotic hardwoods).

And if each person burned ten kilogram of dry wood to make biochar, we would remove around 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide+++ from the atmosphere.


*** from data downloaded from NZ Ministry of Primary Industries Jan 2019 (500 stems/Ha assumed)
2017-ETS-look-up-tables-guide-3.pdf http://www.mpi.govt.nz/growing-and-producing/forestry/forestry-in-the-emissions-trading-scheme/emissions-returns/

+++ own calculation: 27% (by weight) biochar yield from dry timber (at 20% moisture content) and 1 kg C == 3.667 Kg CO2.


This series of posts is based around a resource prepared by Anglicans CAN for an Expo organised by Community Networks Franklin

keep reading for more about this Anglicans CAN climate action

Climate Action Q&A #1

This Little Piggy went to market…

Q: How fast should Little Piggy go when driving to the market?

——

Plot of CO2 emissions at actual speeds compared to those at 100 kph

A: No faster than 80 Km per hour.

For each one kilometre we travel at 10 kph below our open road speed limit (of 100 kph), we avoid dumping around 0.03 KG of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.   

That does not sound very much, but with 3.8 million light vehicles*** in the New Zealand fleet travelling at total of 22,208 million km at open road speeds***, that represents a total of 651 KT CO2/year, or around 4.4% of the transport sector emissions.  Step the speed reduction up to 20kph, the emissions reductions would total 1,220 KT CO2/year which equates to around 8.2% of the transport emissions.


***data downloaded from NZ Ministry of Transport Jan 2019
The New Zealand 2017 Vehicle Fleet : Data Spreadsheet
Version 4.0, September 2018


This series of posts is based around a resource prepared by Anglicans CAN for an Expo organised by Community Networks Franklin

keep reading for more about this Anglicans CAN climate action

Celebrating World Earth Day 2019

Please come and celebrate World Earth Day 2019 with us on
Saturday 27th April at St Andrews Anglican Church, 43 Queen St, Pukekohe or on
Sunday 28th April at Footbridge Estate in Bombay, 59 Chamberlain Road, Bombay.

With the impacts of climate change being increasingly felt here in New Zealand and around the world, not only do we need to reduce carbon emissions from our human activities, we need to also remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Earth Day is on 22nd April each year.  For each of the past two years, we have had small scale events – at St Andrews, Pukekohe. in 2017, and at St Paul’s, Buckland, last year.

The Charcoal Fire nearing the time to extinguish it to create the biochar.
The Charcoal Fire nearing the time to extinguish it to create the biochar.

Time to extinguish the 2017 fire so that the char we want is not all burned to ash. The young ladies had some fun with that and no one got wet.

Jan Wallace, vicar of At Andrews extinguishing the 2018 Charcoal Fire under the supervision of the local fire brigade.

For our 2019 Earth Day event we aim to sequester 1-2 tonnes of atmospheric CO2 in the biochar we will bury plus an additional 14 tonnes over 10 years with the fruit trees planted atop the biochar.  That will make this event more than carbon neutral.
So come on the Saturday with your children (little eco-warriers) to experience the Charcoal Fire
Or come on the second day (Sunday 28th April) to learn more about our climate actions in the seminar series:
 
Innovations & Sustainability Seminars (3pm – 4:20 pm)
  1. Biological treatments of agricultural pests and diseases
    Dr Stephen Ford
  2. New Zealand’s transition to a low emissions economy
    Rod Oram
  3. The need to sequester atmospheric carbon and biochar’s role in achieving that
    John Allen
  4. Ecotheology: Climate Action from a Church perspective
    Dr. Nicola Hoggard Creegan

Our objectives for this event are:

  1. to acknowledge and celebrate World Earth Day 2019 (22 April)
  2. for children to learn through fun and activities, about climate actions (Saturday)
  3. to offer seminars (Sunday) as a means for people to learn about:
    1. Biological treatments of agricultural pests and diseases
    2. New Zealand’s transition to a low emissions economy
    3. The need to sequester atmospheric carbon and biochar’s role in achieving that
    4. Ecotheology: Climate Action from a Church perspective
  4. To make the event carbon-negative***

***  Carbon-negative: burying more carbon, in the form of biochar, than is burned in getting to/from and used in planning and running the event.  Plus we will plant 50 fruit trees (==500 stems/Ha) over the biochar, sequestering CO2 at a rate of 14.1T/year for 10 years.

To print the brochure: Click the image to open it in a new window and print it.


Our programme is

Day 1: Saturday 27th April, 8 am to 12 noon.
@ St Andrews Anglican Church, 43 Queen St, Pukekohe

The Charcoal Fire
Lighting at 8 am using a top-down burn method to reduce smoke and carbon emissions
Quenching at 11:40 am
Attendees can take a lump of char home with them

Static Display of Biochar production tech
8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Climate Q&A Forum
The need to take climate actions to hold global warming to well below 2°C… 9:00 am – 11:30 am

Children’s games and activities
9am – 11:30 am

Sausage sizzle and drinks available
9am – 12 pm

Day 2: Sunday 28th April
@ Footbridge Estate for Innovation & Sustainability,
59 Chamberlain Rd, Bombay

The Charcoal Fire
Lighting at 1 pm using a top-down burn method to reduce smoke and carbon emissions
Quenching at 4:30 pm
Attendees can take a lump of char home with them

Innovations & Sustainability Seminars

    1. Biological treatments of agricultural pests and diseases
      Dr Stephen Ford
    2. New Zealand’s transition to a low emissions economy
      Rod Oram
    3. The need to sequester atmospheric carbon and biochar’s role in achieving that
      John Allen
    4. Ecotheology: Climate Action from a Church perspective
      Dr. Nicola Hoggard Creegan

Static Display of Biochar production tech
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Vintage High Tea
Food for sale at 1pm and 2:30pm.
$35 pp. 
Bookings essential – email Ngaire@footbridge.co.nz


To make the event carbon-negative, after the event we will:

Establish the Terra Preta Orchard:

  • Burning 1.5T dry wood will yield around 400 Kg biochar
  • Burying that 400Kg biochar ½m below the soil surface will sequester around 1.5T CO2
  • Inoculating the biochar with compost/vermicast tea will activate it with soil micro-organisms
  • Covering the biochar with excavated soil ensures the char is retained
  • Planting 50 fruit trees will sequester a further 1.4 T CO2 each year for 20 years
  • Event emissions are estimated at 1.5 T CO2e

Sustainable Anglicans

What does sustainability mean to you?

One dictionary defines sustainability as “the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level”.

Let’s consider water.  On the one hand, we have had enough flooding throughout the country, to realise that we do not have a water flow (rate) problem.  On the other hand, the dry period we have experienced this year has, for many, severely tested their access (level) to water.

What this tells me is that we do not have a water flow problem but instead, have an issue with water storage.  That problem is easily fixed with the local collection and storage of rain water.  This concept, a rain water harvesting system, is what we have in the St Andrews, Pukekohe, community food garden.  The consequence is that in this growing season just finishing, we have not used town water to keep the garden growing.

In our food garden then, are climate and water sustainability actions that anyone can replicate at home.

The food garden also features waste sustainability in the form of a worm farm and composting system that recycles food and garden wastes to apply to the garden as fertiliser.  We have not imported any fertilisers to apply to the garden this year so from those perspectives, production from the garden can be sustained at its present rate.

And of course, the garden itself adds to our community’s food sustainability and energy sustainability by growing our own food locally, and avoiding the carbon emissions from transporting it.

Not only do these actions meet the sustainability definition above, they also provide for local resilience and a measure of adaptability to climate change.

However, I prefer a more compelling definition of sustainability: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

This is what last month’s global School Strike for Climate Action was all about.  In what may well have been the largest global day of climate action ever, these young people are coming of age at a crucial time in our response to climate change.  Unless we take action now, they will be the generation that will have their futures compromised, the generation that has to face the consequences of our past actions, but to which they have contributed so little cause.

Here are two climate/sustainability actions that local people can take to help ensure their future is as fulfilling as our past has been.

One is to join us on the Grow Your Own Food course that starts at St Andrews on April 10th.  For six Wednesday evenings, from 7:15 pm to 8:30pm, we will cover food growing: from the role of soil organisms, through when to plant seeds and seedlings, and crop rotations, to planning your own easy-as productive and no-dig food garden.

Second is to plan on coming to our 2019 Earth Day event.  Spread over two days (Saturday April 27th and Sunday 28th) where we will take the next essential action in mitigating climate change: removing carbon from the atmosphere.  So mark your diaries now: The Charcoal Fire Earth Day 2019 event will be held at Footbridge Centre for Innovation and Sustainability, 59 Chamberlain Rd, Bombay, Auckland.

Sustainability Matters

October has been an impactful month from a sustainability perspective.

The Government last week released a new report Essential Freshwater: Healthy Water, Fairly Allocated, on how to improve the quality of our freshwater systems.

We will all be affected by new rules, to be in place by 2020, that are intended to halt the degradation of our freshwater systems.  Those rules ought result in a noticeable improvement in freshwater quality within five years.

Then, on World Food Day, leaders in the global food movement set out their clear opposition to “gene drives” in a new report, Forcing the Farm.

The report explored controversial new genetic engineering technologies, the same tech that our government have proposed as a means to make the country pest free.

The authors of the report present case studies on how gene drive organisms could entrench industrial agriculture and threaten food sovereignty.  Their arguments are compelling.

Then there was a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that highlighted just how dire our inaction on mitigating the drivers of global warming will be.

The report, which was commissioned by the United Nations, assesses the consequences of global average temperatures rising by 1.5°C.  The climate actions required to avoid that level of warming do not make for edifying reading – we have as little as 12 years to slash global emissions by some 45 percent.

The report is unequivocal – in case you hadn’t noticed, our climate is changing now.  So political and social action and commitment is required now.  There can be no more procrastinating.

When it comes to the risks to humans from climate change, it is often the people least able to take action, who will be affected the most.  This includes the poor and the elderly, our pacific neighbours who may be displaced from their homes due to sea level rise and our grandchildren.

What climate actions can you take?

There are two prime drivers of global warming.

One is the emission of new carbon to the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels.  So cutting down on your fossil fuel use by driving less is a great climate action.

The other is the removal of carbon sinks when we cut trees down.  So planting trees is a great climate action too.

Less impactful but still beneficial actions you can take are in the areas of household energy, food, waste and water systems.  These four areas of sustainability are all founding principles of the St Andrews (Pukekohe) communal food garden.  

At a parish level, energy audits, starting a food garden (or food hub), composting of food and garden wastes and rain water harvesting are all easy-to-take climate and sustainability actions.  And community building can be achieved by adding a Friend’s of the Food Garden group or a Grow Your Own Food course, alongside the food garden, will provide a base from which people can learn how to make small changes to their carbon footprint.  These actions will also help us build resilience as we move steadily towards having to adapt to climate change.

Rise for Climate and Cherish our Earth

Homo Sapiens have lived on Earth for around 10,000 generations***, yet since the industrial revolution (1760-1830), just ten to twelve generations ago, we have been the cause of much lasting damage to the earth.

We have degraded the world’s soils to the point that all it could be gone within three generations.  We watched species loss occurring at an ever-accelerating rate – from 100 times the natural rate, to between 1,000 and 10,000 times in my lifetime.  We have sat on our hands for two generations, and done nothing to mitigate the drivers of global warming that is now changing our climate.

For over forty years we have known that avoiding disastrous climate change requires breaking fossil fuel’s hold on our economy and our way of life.  And we have done so little.

Cherishing our Earth has become something we give too little attention to.

This came up at the Auckland Diocese annual synod earlier this month.   Amongst the presentation was one by journalist Rod Oram, a member of the Anglican Climate Action Network.  

His topic was our christian roles in this time of climate change.

One of Rod’s slides was a quote from American environmental lawyer and advocate Gus Speth.  

In this season of creation, we acknowledge the issues that humankind’s activities on this earth have caused. It is time we took action.  On these and other related issues.   

How relevant is the quote and how right is the sentiment?  What do you think?

350 Aoteroa’s event Rise for Climate outside the Anglican Cathedral in Parnell. L-R Amanda Larsson (350 Aotearoa), Rod Oram (Anglicans CAN), Barry Coates (350 Aotearoa) and John Allen (Anglicans CAN)


 *** assuming a 20-year cycle from birth to procreation