Kiwis 'big' greenhouse emitters

Last updated 12:00 14/04/2014

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New Zealanders are now the fourth highest emitters of greenhouse gases per person in the world and there is no plan to reduce our impact, says a Massey University climate scientist.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report on greenhouse gas mitigation in Berlin last night.

It showed New Zealanders were, on average, responsible for emitting about 8 tonnes of CO 2 per year.

Professor Ralph Sims from Massey University's School of Engineering and Advanced Technology said the average New Zealander produced around twice the greenhouse gases of the average Chinese person and eight times the gases of someone in India.

"This means we are now the fourth highest emitters per person in the world, behind Australia, the United States, and Canada."

The Government has set what Sims calls a "modest target" of reducing the country's total greenhouse gas emissions to 5 per cent below the 1990 levels by 2020.

"Yet no-one knows how we will achieve this," Sims said.

"In our Sixth Communication document to the United Nations in December 2013, the Ministry of Environment projected our net greenhouse gas emissions (the total emitted minus the CO 2 absorbed by forests planted after 1990) will reach more than 75 million tonnes in 2020 if we continue with business as usual.

"To reach the 5 per cent reduction target below our 1990 emissions, we will need to somehow reduce these to 55 million tonnes."

The IPCC's mitigation report outlines various means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change.

The report covers areas such as buildings, transport, industry, energy supplies, food production and processing, and forests.

"Many of these solutions also provide major additional benefits such as less air pollution, better health, reduced traffic congestion, more employment and they actually save money," Sims said.

Sims' comments come after the release earlier this month of the fifth United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report.

It predicted a rise in average temperatures of up to 5 degrees Celsius in New Zealand by the end of the century and warned of increased risk of wildfire, storms, floods, landslides and sea level rises.

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- Manawatu Standard

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