Editorial: Climate change can't afford idleness from politicians and individuals
Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. Climate change is coming if we admit to it or not. How much of our beautiful nature remains in tact - like stunning Elliot Bay in the Bay of Islands - is up to us. Photo / Julia Czerwonatis The Advocate climate change series has come to a close but the crisis is far from over. Climate change will be part of our lives and generations after us for the foreseeable future and with every year, its effects become more visible. Along with that, the nagging voice in the back of our minds telling us 'It's time to act!' will grow relentlessly louder. Idleness and the rejection of responsibility will haunt us eventually with floods and droughts, rising seas and raging storms if we remain heedless. I am guilty as charged. Over the past decade, I turned from an idealistic environmentalist to a small-town mum who recklessly leans into convenience, desperate for me-time and sleep. I've got no brain for climate woes. What can a single person possibly do anyway? But a sense of moral and civic obligation trumped my cynical frustration and within days of research, I found so much that is relevant for me and my lifestyle. Niki Harre set the record right: You have to chop climate change into manageable chunks and find what applies to your own circumstances. "China's emissions are not your problem," she said. Harre is right. Big picture thinking can easily become overwhelming and spark hopelessness. People are getting paid to do that job but unfortunately, in our case, New Zealand's leadership didn't cover themselves in glory this year after dropping the ball on their emissions reduction plan. Despite clear instructions from the independent Climate Change Commission, the Government delayed announcements from late this year to a non-committal date in 2022. The hesitancy in the Beehive trickles down to local governance level and councils are forced to put climate action policies on the backburner because funding and policies are not put in place. Some of Northland's leadership, notably the Northland Regional Council, have put in the works and are recognised nationally for their climate endeavours. But more strong leadership from our politicians is needed to bring climate change to the forefront and offer pathways for agencies, industry and communities to do their bit. The media has its own responsibility to keep climate change in the public eye and mind outside of controversial climate summits. Instead of capitalising on worst-case scenario headlines, media should offer solutions to its readers. As 12-year-old Noah Hewlett-Coffey of Whangarei said: "Nothing good can come from despair." Hope, on the other hand, will give us agency and there is plenty of hope out there. My interviewees spoke of unity and a better future, and it's catching because they have found their role in what they can do to combat climate change. If you're still unsure what to do, start this Christmas: less food waste, less rubbish, less single-use traps. Ditch the party plastic plates and do the dishes. Instead of buying lots of cheap toys made in dirty factories overseas, get one Kiwi-craft toy that lasts a lifetime. Cook enough to feed hungry bellies but don't dish up a 10-course meal if half of it will go to waste. And get a compost bin. It might sound tiresome and expensive right now, but the price of climate change is unaffordable. Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. A new economic impact report details the effects of repeated closures.