Planetary Ecology

New Zealand’s Emission Reduction Plan

Guest Author Nov 23, 2021

By Paul Callister and Robert McLachlan Fifty years ago, on 26 November 1971, the film “Notes on a New Zealand City: Wellington”, directed by Paul Maunder, premiered on Wellington TV. The narrator asks if Wellington’s future will involve suburban sprawl, traffic, motorways, suburban shopping malls, and the decentralization of employment; or an alternative vision of medium-density … Read More

Why emissions pricing cannot do it alone

Robert McLachlan Nov 16, 2021

By David Hall and Robert McLachlan There is strong agreement among economists that emissions pricing should play a central role in climate change policy. New Zealand has had a price on some carbon emissions through its Emissions Trading Scheme since 2010, although (COVID excepting) emissions have not yet fallen. Recently the scheme has been strengthened through higher prices, now … Read More

COP26: New Zealand’s new climate pledge is a step up, but not a ‘fair share’

Robert McLachlan Nov 02, 2021

As the Glasgow climate summits gets underway, New Zealand’s government has announced a revised pledge, with a headline figure of a 50% reduction on gross 2005 emissions by the end of this decade. This looks good on the surface, but the substance of this new commitment, known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), is best assessed in emissions … Read More

Kāpiti’s zombie airport

Guest Author Oct 28, 2021

Feature Image: Wrong airport, but the picture was too good to pass up. Zombies from Extinction Rebellion protest the expansion of Wellington Airport, January 2019. Source: Zombie Apocalypse Monthly. Kāpiti Coast Airport has hardly any flights and is living on borrowed time, but it just won’t die. Now a new report concludes that it “cannot remain operationally viable”. Read More

Electric aircraft – coming soon to save us, or all hype and greenwash?

Guest Author Oct 23, 2021

By Paul Callister and Robert McLachlan Electric aircraft have arrived, but a lot has to happen to make commercial flights a reality. Can they live up to the hype, and can they reduce aviation emissions? We run the numbers. It’s not easy to keep up with the rapidly-changing world of electric aircraft. It can look like a blizzard of … Read More

Climate explained: how much of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels and could we replace it all with renewables?

Robert McLachlan Sep 15, 2021

How are fossil fuels formed, why do they release carbon dioxide and how much of the world’s energy do they provide? And what are the renewable energy sources that could replace fossil fuels? Fossil fuels were formed over millions of years from the remains of plants and animals trapped in sediments and then transformed by heat and pressure. Most … Read More

Lawyers challenge New Zealand’s proposed emissions budgets as inconsistent with the 1.5℃ goal

Robert McLachlan Jul 07, 2021

New Zealand’s Climate Change Commission is facing its first legal hurdle, as a group of 300 climate-concerned lawyers seek judicial review of the processes it used to calculate carbon budgets in its recently released advice to government. Carbon budgets are a cornerstone of New Zealand’s climate change response under the Zero Carbon Act and lie at … Read More

New plastic ban: Interview with Trisia Farrelly

Robert McLachlan Jul 01, 2021

On 27 June, the New Zealand Government announced the phase-out of some hard-to-recycle and some single-use plastics. Robert McLachlan talks to Massey University’s Trisia Farrelly, a tireless campaigner against plastic waste. Trisia: I’m an anthropologist at Massey University, I wear quite a few hats around New Zealand and internationally on plastic pollution, which I’ve been researching since … Read More

So it begins: The Climate Change Commission’s advice to government and what happened next

Robert McLachlan Jun 23, 2021

What’s that? You wanted action, not just words, on climate change? And you wanted it now, not next year or the year after? How about something big, really big, maybe also diving right into the heart of an emotional, touchstone issue – say, the private car?  Welcome to the EV subsidy. The New Zealand government has surprised and delighted electric vehicle … Read More