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WIREs Clim Change
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Climate change and Aotearoa New Zealand

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With a population of 4.5 million, New Zealand's contribution to total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is relatively low. On a per capita basis, however, New Zealand's GHG emissions are the fifth highest among Annex 1 countries, due in part to the relative size of the pastoral agricultural sector. Biophysical impacts of climate change will largely extend current climate trends, with high regional variability. A review of climate change literature identifies three key risks for New Zealand relating to economic connectedness, perceptions of ‘clean, green’ New Zealand, and social equity. Since 2008, New Zealand's main mitigation response has been the emissions trading scheme (NZ ETS), yet the ETS is currently providing little by way of meaningful incentives for behavior change and low‐carbon investment. Moreover, since declining to enter the second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol, engagement with global climate governance has been modest, and recently released emissions reduction targets have raised questions over New Zealand's responsibilities as a global citizen. In this paper, adaptive responses are considered in connection to key industries (agriculture, tourism) and communities (coastal, Māori), and examine the devolved structure of adaptation. Mainstream media reporting of climate change in New Zealand appears to be aligned with the scientific consensus position, yet it continues to frame climate change as a political issue, prioritizing political over scientific voices. Public perceptions of climate change provide evidence of continued uncertainty relating to human attribution, and depict climate change as a spatially distanced risk which could affect support for government action on climate change. WIREs Clim Change 2015, 6:559–583. doi: 10.1002/wcc.355 This article is categorized under: Trans‐Disciplinary Perspectives > National Reviews
International comparisons for per capita emissions in 2011. Source: Ministry for the Environment, 2014
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Breakdown of GHG emissions within the energy sector, comparing New Zealand and the average of other Annex 1 countries, for 2012. Source: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
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Relative sea‐level rise at 4 main ports (1990–2007). Adapted from: Hannah & Bell (2012).
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New Zealand's seven‐station annual average temperature, minus 1971–2000 normal. Reproduced by permission of NIWA.
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Map of Aotearoa New Zealand
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GHG emissions by gas, New Zealand and Annex 1 countries in 2012. Data sourced from: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
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