Planetary Ecology

Way to go: Electrifying advice from the Climate Change Commission

Robert McLachlan Feb 05, 2021

The Climate Change Commission’s draft advice on how to decarbonise New Zealand’s economy is refreshing, particularly as it calls on the government to start phasing out fossil fuels instead of relying on offsets and carbon trading. Until now, New Zealand has relied heavily on its Emissions Trading Scheme, but the evidence is clear that it has failed … Read More

Geyserland: Or, What happened at Taupō

Robert McLachlan Jan 06, 2021

I don’t know Taupō well. Even though I stop off there from time to time, I’m always on the way to somewhere else. Usually Taupō means making a hot water puddle in the gritty sand followed by a swim in the lake, noticing with bemusement and resignation the traffic, the parasailing, and the hole-in-one game. Sometimes a random, generic motel. Read More

Climate emergency or not, New Zealand needs to start doing its fair share of climate action

Robert McLachlan Dec 02, 2020

Following this week’s climate emergency declaration, New Zealand will have to face up to the fact it has one of the worst climate records of industrialised nations. Of 43 industrialised countries — known as Annex 1 countries — 31 are experiencing a drop in emissions. But 12 have seen net emissions increase between 1990 and 2018, and New … Read More

New Zealand weighs up a nation-sized battery

Guest Author Oct 21, 2020

Ian Mason and Robert McLachlan Climate change was a small but perceptible part of the recent election. On climate change, Labour pointed proudly to their record of legislating for net zero emissions by 2050 (nicknamed the ‘Zero Carbon Act’), establishing a Climate Change Commission to set carbon budgets and advise the government, and for strengthening the Emissions Trading Scheme by … Read More

New Zealand voters divided on climate

Guest Author Oct 01, 2020

Robert McLachlan, Massey University New Zealanders are polarised on climate change policy, according to a recent Stuff/Massey University survey of 55,000 readers. This puts the two major political parties in a difficult position as they seek options that are credible yet appealing to voters. Just 30% of Labour voters and 22% of National voters think the country is “more … Read More

Flight to nowhere sends the wrong message in climate crisis

Robert McLachlan Sep 25, 2020

Qantas Airlines’ 7-hour “flight to nowhere”, that sold out in 10 minutes with prices from A$787 to A$3787, seemed like a sick joke to climate advocates. Apart from the waste of fuel and the pointless emissions, passengers would be able to see first-hand, from a plane just like those that carried coronavirus around the world so effectively, the sweeping devastation … Read More

Climate Commission is cleared for takeoff: James Renwick talks ice, snow, and climate action

Robert McLachlan Feb 10, 2020

James Renwick is Professor of Physical Geography at Victoria University of Wellington. He studied at Canterbury and the University of Washington and has worked on diverse aspects of climate science, including global atmospheric circulation and Antarctic sea ice. In December 2019 he was appointed to the New Zealand Climate Change Commission, which will recommend carbon budgets and mitigation strategies to … Read More

A multitude of drops: Social tipping points in climate action

Robert McLachlan Jan 24, 2020

If you’re here, you probably know that the climate crisis is upon us, that it’s getting steadily worse, and that attempts to address it haven’t worked yet. People are still driving and even advertising SUVs with impunity, and oil companies are exploring like crazy, even in New Zealand. Politically, socially, economically, it’s a challenging problem. In Social tipping dynamics … Read More

Should I ditch my fossil-fueled car?

Robert McLachlan Jan 09, 2020

Yes. Reducing the number of cars in your household, or switching from petrol/diesel to electric, will dramatically reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. It’s one of the easiest and highest-impact climate steps you can take. New Zealand is being flooded with cars The New Zealand vehicle fleet is increasing rapidly. In the five years 2012-2017,  1,420,000 vehicles were imported and 660,000 … Read More