Climate Change: Issues and Challenges

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with members of the Auckland UU Climate Team – Brenda Bendall, Shirin Caldwell, Jonathan Mason

Climate Change: Issues and Challenges
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Follow this shortcut to the bottom of the page for the various readings, videos, etc. shared in the service, plus many informative links embedded in the main text below.

Shirin Caldwell, Brenda Bendall, Jonathon Mason © 19 June 2022

From Shirin Caldwell:-

Why we are doing this service.

In November 2021 Clay delivered a service called ‘COP26 Blah, blah, blah‘. He began by saying: Greta Thunberg has been teaching us how to speak truth to power. She has resisted being a token voice used by governments lacking political will and by global companies seeking to monetise efforts to stop killing the planet while doing their best to protect their financial interests in extracting carbon.

  • Clay’s particular musing prompted 3 of us from the Climate Action Team and the Peace and Social Justice Group to think about our individual responsibilities regarding the Climate Crisis.
  • We acknowledge that our congregation is knowledgeable about, and care deeply about Climate Change, and that many of us, if not all, will have already begun making positive changes to reduce our carbon emissions.
  • We are aware that Climate Change is one of the big factors in today’s Mental Health issues, along with Covid and the war in Ukraine. Do contact Clay if you feel a need to talk.
  • Our aim this morning is to remind ourselves of the issues, and urgency for climate action
  • To provide information on climate issues and action happening now
  • To support and help with undertaking changes
  • To Acknowledge that some issues are non-negotiable for us, e.g., domestic and overseas air travel to visit family or business; prohibitive cost of electric vehicles, solar panels for example.
  • We also acknowledge the excellent on-line resources available on the CAT site initiated by John Graves, and the valuable input by Joel. Thanks to both of you.
  • Brenda Jonathan and myself met and decided to explore what is being done in the wake of Clay’s talk and the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in 2021 and what we as individuals could do to help mitigate in our own way some of the effects of the Climate Crisis. We began by measuring our own Environmental Footprint. Our talk today outlines firstly the current report from 18 May 2022 Stockholm+50: unlocking a better future, summarized by Rod Oram in last weeks Newsroom. Jonathan talks about what is being done by some of the large corporations in New Zealand to help mitigate the effects of the climate crisis, and Brenda talks about what we found as a result of exploring our own Environmental Footprints, and suggests small personal household changes we might like to start with, and how we might go on to lock in these changes, so we are ready to move onto larger challenges.

From Rod Oram:-

In early June 1972, the United Nations gathered 113 countries in Stockholm for their first-ever environment summit. Sweden had pushed for the meeting because human-induced damage was escalating around the planet. To name just three causes, acid rain was killing trees, DDT was killing birds and air pollution was killing people.

In 1992 the UN established its Framework Convention on Climate Change and held the Rio Earth Summit, which brought together environment and development for the first time in a United Nations all-nations summit.

Negotiations under the Framework Convention gave us the Kyoto Protocol in 2005, our first attempt to reduce emissions. But it was a failure, so further Framework Convention labours led to the Paris Agreement replacing it in 2015. But the rule book for the Paris pact was only agreed last year at the Glasgow climate negotiations.

We can make some good decisions. We have largely stopped causing acid rain or using DDT, to name two.

In 1972, when the first Stockholm summit was hosted, Earth Overshoot Day the date by which we’ve used up a year’s worth of sustainable resources, was December 10th. Last year it was July 29. [In 2022, Earth Overshoot Day lands on July 28.] But those dates are for all countries, with poor developing countries with low footprints heavily subsidising wealthy developed ones.

Last year in 2021,  New Zealand’s overshoot day was April 19. But even that ranked us only 17th in the world. The worst six were Qatar, Luxembourg, Canada, United Arab Emirates, the US and Australia with their dates ranging from February 10 to March 23. The latter day represents the sustainable resources of five Earths. We Kiwis use 3.3 planets-worth a year.

Quite simply, the first Stockholm conference began our journey to sustainability; we’ve achieved some solutions; and we have developed a lot of local, national and international structures and goals to drive more.

But we continue to create a deep, dangerous and widening chasm between the damage we inflict on the Earth, our life-support system, and the actions we take towards achieving true human sustainability in all meanings of that word – ecological, environmental, social, cultural and economic.

50 years on from Stockholm Summit, sustainability can no longer be human-centric – Rod oram, Newsroom, FIRST PUBLISHED JUN 3, 2022, Updated Jun 7, 2022

Rod Oram then went on to quote a large chunk of the summary of the Stockholm+50 report.

We live amid entwined crises, both planetary and human. Humans are causing unprecedented change to our climate and ecosystems, and those who contributed the least to the planetary crisis are suffering its worst impacts.

We do not have a gap in policies and aspirations, rather in actions. Since 1972, only around one‑tenth of the hundreds of global environment and sustainable development targets agreed by countries have been achieved or seen significant progress; it is not enough. The knowledge and the means of solving our problems are known and available; implementation is missing.

We are better equipped for change than ever. By harnessing momentum for change – the growing public support, faster uptake of clean technology, inclusive and innovative finance, and the robust scientific evidence on positive co-benefits of acting now – 2022 can be a new watershed moment for pursuit of our sustainable future on Earth.

We have keys to unlock a better future. Our synthesis of scientific research and new ideas points to three broad shifts that require immediate actions now, to redefine our relationship with nature, ensure prosperity that lasts for all and invest in a sustainable future. If these actions are initiated now, they can seed transformative change.

Our relationship with nature needs redefining, from one of extraction to one of care. Human-nature connectedness should be strengthened in our social norms and value systems, and in how we live our everyday lives, by integrating nature in our cities; protecting animal welfare and shifting to more plant‑based diets; increasing nature-based education for children and youth; and recognising and drawing on indigenous local knowledge.

It is only possible to ensure prosperity that lasts for all by completely rethinking our way of living.

Stockholm+50: unlocking a better future, Stockholm Environment Institute

Back to Rod Oram:-

But the words of welcome by Sweden’s Prime Minister Olof Palme to the 1972 delegates are just as forceful and encouraging for the 2022 delegates:

“I am certain that solutions can be found. But it is absolutely necessary that concerted, international action is undertaken. It is indeed very, very urgent. At the same time, the feeling of urgency should not overshadow the fact that solutions will require far-reaching changes in attitudes and social structures.”

50 years on from Stockholm Summit, sustainability can no longer be human-centric – Rod oram, Newsroom, FIRST PUBLISHED JUN 3, 2022, Updated Jun 7, 2022

From Jonathan Mason:-

The ‘Hockey Stick’

Video animation showing wildfires in California since 1910 and highlights the state’s 10-largest fires.
Credit: ESRI

From Brenda Bendall:-

Exploring our Environmental Footprints

Jonathan and Shirin have illustrated the major issue of Climate Change, and the urgency of action, and I would now like to talk to you about Exploring our Environmental Footprints. I’m aware that many of you are familiar with carbon footprint calculators; however, Shirin, Jonathan and I would like to gently remind ourselves, and you, of the impact that our actions have on the environment. Our carbon footprint is one way to measure that. I’d also like us to think about ways we can avoid, reduce and mitigate, these actions so that we can reduce carbon emissions wherever possible.

Why should we bother about this?

Calculating our carbon footprint is a way to better understand our impact on the environment; when we know the amount of carbon each of our activities generates, we are then better placed to do something about it. We can make targeted decisions on identified actions to reduce our emissions. The need for action is now, and any actions taken to reduce, avoid or mitigate our carbon emissions will make a difference.

I’m reminded again of Edmund Burke’s saying: “No one could make a greater mistake than he (or she) who did nothing because he (or she) could do only a little.”

What Carbon Footprint Calculators are available?

There are a number of companies offering free online carbon footprint calculators for households and individuals. When looking at the calculators available, it quickly became apparent NZ based Carbon Footprint Calculators gave a more meaningful answers, as they used NZ sourced data from the Ministry for the Environment and other government agencies. The ease of use, and the reliability of the outcome was investigated with each.

Three NZ based carbon footprint calculators, GenLess – Future Fit; Toitu Envirocare; and Ekos gave similar results when tested. All three used the Ministry for the Environment data in developing the calculators which gave confidence in the results. All three measured household energy, vehicle mileage, travel and waste. GenLess and Ekos also measured diet. Help with making changes to reduce carbon emissions is given with all three.

Who are these organisations?

GenLess is a government organisation that focuses on the many aspects of Climate Action and is considered to give the best guidance for climate action for individuals. Future Fit is the name of the carbon footprint calculator, amongst the suite of tools with GenLess. Refer: .

GenLess also provide car emissions figures based on vehicle models. Refer:

Toitu Envirocare provides carbon assessment and certifications for businesses, using science-based tools, actions and evidence. A free online tool for calculating household carbon footprints is also provided. Refer: Carbon Footprint Calculators NZ | Toitū Envirocare ( While this calculator does not include household diet, it is very easy. A printable summary is available, which is helpful in keeping track of data input for the carbon emission results.

I’d like to acknowledge here, the help that Toitu Envirocare has given me. Their responses to the many questions I have asked has helped shape this talk.

Ekos is an organisation with a Charitable Trust arm that provides help to businesses in reducing carbon emissions and with the development of a carbon-reduction plan. Ekos has direct links to indigenous and sustainable forests in NZ where offset carbon credits can be purchased. Refer: Lifestyle Calculator.

Ekos also provides carbon footprint calculators for Businesses, Schools and Events.

What can we do now? Have a go and start calculating your carbon footprint!

We suggest you:

  1. Calculate your individual or household carbon footprint with a NZ based calculator. You’ll need your yearly energy bills and vehicle mileage which is available on your Warrant of Fitness.
  2. Record your input data and resulting carbon emissions for each category
  3. Identify an area or category that you feel you are able to avoid, reduce or mitigate your emissions
  4. Monitor your carbon footprint every 6 – 12 months to see the impact of changes you have made
  5. Lock in that change, and
  6. Move forward on to the next challenge. Help the environment one step at a time.
The question of non-negotiables and carbon offsets.

We all have things we do or use that we feel are non-negotiable. This could be for health, family or financial reasons. Maybe we can find some way to reduce, mitigate or offset the non-negotiable actions we feel can’t avoid? Alternatively, perhaps we can focus on other areas we are able to change, and make a targeted difference there.

Carbon offsets from information I have read, and webinars I’ve listened to, it appears that considering offsetting our carbon emissions should be our last resort – only used when avoidance, reduction or mitigation of the carbon emitting action cannot practically be done. There can be situations where making a carbon offset is appropriate, however.

Both Toitu Envirocare and Ekos provide the ability to offset our carbon emissions, and give the current price for carbon credits in NZ dollars in their calculator summaries. With Ekos, use of credits purchased can go towards helping indigenous and sustainable forests in NZ. One of the options Toitu Envirocare offers is to use your carbon credits to purchase low-emission cook stoves through Fairtrade, India.

Our Challenges
  1. Can we commit now to calculate or review our household carbon footprint: Please note that these results are private, and there is no pressure to disclose them to others.
  1. Can we commit to choosing one action that we can undertake now?

For example, we might commit to:

  • Eat a large plant-based diet, with healthy portions and no waste
  • Buy no more than three new items of clothing per year
  • Keep electrical products for at least seven years
  • Reduce the number of short-haul and long-haul flights we take over the next three years
  • Hold onto our existing vehicle for longer if we are not in a position to purchase an EV or Hybrid, or, to get rid of the vehicle all together.
  • Make a least one life shift to nudge the system, like moving to a green energy, better insulating our home, or changing our Kiwisaver provider
  • Moving personal investments to ESG funds, where businesses and companies are measured by the sustainability and ethical impact of their company’s investment. ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) are the 3 key factors used as the criteria to screen investment funds.

Commit for 6 – 12 months, and see what difference it makes to you carbon emissions.

  1. With elections coming up,
  • We can go to political meetings and question candidates on their position on climate change
  • Vote for the candidate who is most passionate about climate change
  • Advocate for All-of-Government response to climate change
What can we do as a church community?

Using the momentum we hope this talk has generated, we might consider:

  • Getting together in say, 6 months’ time to see how we are doing with our challenges – What has worked? Are there stumbling blocks? What are they, and how can we remove or get around them? What more can we do?

Thank you.

Meditation / Conversation starter:


Opening Song:Blue Boat Home” by Peter Mayer,
Video by Scott McNeill

Opening Words:Letter to Noah’s Wife” by Maya C. Popa

Chalice Lighting: is For the Web of Life” By Paul Sprecher

Song:Beds Are Burning” by Midnight Oil
Gee Seven” by Sir Tim Rice and Peter Hobbs for Sing2G7 with Truro Cathedral Choristers

Closing Words: Four Element Blessing” By Eric Williams