Jo Raphael: We need more action on climate change
Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. OPINION I'm sure we all noticed the icy blast making its way up the country. Snow fell on Mt Tarawera in the Bay of Plenty, high winds caused multiple power outages and a large tree caused traffic havoc after falling over and blocking both lanes on State Highway 5, south of Rotorua. Snow also closed the Desert Rd and SH5 between Napier and Taupo, and a snow warning was in place for Gisborne. I've said this before in a previous column: it's winter and it happens every year. Granted, it's not usual to get snow this far north in the North Island, but it's not unheard of. Climate change deniers pounce on extreme weather events such as snow and cold temperatures for ammunition in their "climate change is fake" arguments. However, there is one fundamental fact that is undeniable: climate and weather are not the same. The weather is what's happening in the atmosphere today, while climate is about weather patterns, averaged out over a period of time. Elsewhere on the planet, devastating wild fires have raged in Turkey, Canada and now in Greece. Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has blamed climate change for the fires, saying "come and see the intensity of the phenomena". In Canada, the village of Lytton was almost razed to the ground and British Columbia declared a state of emergency. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said climate change plays "a significant role" in these extreme weather events. Here in the Bay of Plenty, our regional council declared a climate change emergency two years ago. Last week the expected impacts of climate change have been revealed and $700,000 has been approved to help address it. Projects such as an electric vehicle charging infrastructure study, the Carless Wednesday Challenge and creating maps have highlighted the impact of climate change on the region. Data shows the region's number of frost days were expected to reduce from seven per year to five by 2040 and two by 2090. The number of days per year where temperatures reached more than 25C was expected to increase from 32 to 52 by 2040, and to 99 by 2090. Niwa says we've just had our warmest June and July since records began. This is bad news. While the good news is that action has finally been taken, more needs to be done if we're to reverse the impact of climate change in the future. The regional council should look into a more comprehensive public transport system, bus routes and timetables that are more accessible to workers on shift work. Using electric buses should also be investigated. Because while it may be cold and bitter outside now, these types of days are likely to happen less frequently unless we act. Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. Three young BMX riders from Waikato have returned from the UCI World Championships.