Be a climate kiwi
What does it take to be a climate kiwi?
So World Environment Day has come and gone, and we’re all being encouraged to “kick the carbon habit”. But what does this entail exactly?

The Government has been banging on about carbon neutrality, emissions trading and our Kyoto responsibilities, and while it is slowly making good on its promises much more work is urgently needed.

New Zealand is among the worst countries in the developed world for emission increases. We’re the world's 12th worst polluter on a per-capita basis, and the greenhouse gas intensity of our economy is fourth-highest in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) by GDP.

In recent years, our emissions have grown even faster than the United States. Not something we can be particularly proud of, but something we can change with the right attitudes.

Pressuring government and business to follow up their green rhetoric with real action is incredibly important, but that said, we can’t all just sit around and wait for the politicians to remedy all of our environmental woes with a magic tincture. We have to take action ourselves and be the change we want to see, while encourage broader, more fundamental change through our actions.

Greenpeace advocates a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. This can be a complicated political problem for governments to sort out as businesses fight for concessions so they can continue polluting and conducting business-as-usual, however, for individuals a 30 per cent target is surprisingly easy to achieve.

Every home is different, however, on average each New Zealander is responsible for 8 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. Cutting your emissions by 30% (around 2.4 tonnes) could be as easy as*:

- Replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs (55kg saving per bulb, per year) - Washing clothes in cold water (315kg saving per year) - Using a clothes line instead of a tumble dryer (120kg saving per year) - Installing a water saving shower head (190kg saving per year) - Installing a solar hot water system (around a 1.5 tonne saving per year) - Holidaying at home instead of abroad (1.3 tonne saving per flight between Auckland and Sydney)

And that’s just for starters. Getting rid of that rusty old beer fridge in the garage, putting the heated towel rail on a timer, insulating your drafty house, getting the car tuned properly, growing your own food and buying locally produced products as much as possible are also fantastic ways to both reduce your carbon footprint and save money at the same time.

Doing things like taking public transport or riding the bike more also have fantastic flow on effects for communities. As councils and the government see people transitioning to public transport in greater numbers, it will not be long until far more money is allocated to improving supporting infrastructure. Likewise, the more people that ride their bikes, the greater the pressure will be to create cycle lanes and other facilities to make cycling easier.

* Average C02 emissions per kWh hours are from NZ Ministry for the Environment figures.