'Individual responsibility' key in climate change fight - expert

Source: 1News

Individual responsibility will help make a difference in the fight against climate change, an expert says.

Sustainable energy and climate mitigation expert Ralph Sims told Breakfast behavioural change is key.

If people buy little to no emission vehicles, turn off lights and reduce food waste, it'll help to improve the future.

If governments reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest more in renewable and sustainable energy, the future of climate extremes also won't be as bleak.

"Climate impacts are affecting the weather and this will become the norm, so we do have to learn how to adapt to it and accommodate it," Sims said.

This week, the UK has had a record-breaking heatwave and wildfires have been raging in France and Spain.

Closer to home, heavy rain, strong winds, swells and snow have wreaked havoc across New Zealand in recent weeks, closing roads, grounding flights and damaging property.

Sims said it's "frustrating" scientists have been "yelling" about climate change and the weather extremes it brings for 20 to 30 years, but it's only now some people are beginning to take notice.

Given the world had been talking about climate for decades, Sims said he's concerned actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are "happening too slowly".

Focusing on New Zealand, the Massey University emeritus professor said the country is still increasing its greenhouse gas emissions annually and pointed out it had only seen a dip due to Covid-19.

On a per capita basis, Sims said New Zealand is one of the highest emitters in the world, topping its neighbour Australia, the US, India and even China.

He said individual responsibility needs to start now.

A bulldozer attempts to clear debris on Marine Drive, Eastbourne.

A Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2021 found without large-scale and immediate reductions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to near 1.5C or even 2C will be impossible.

Another report from the IPCC in March said significant and rapid emission reductions were required, along with robust and timely adaptation, to save the planet.