Benefits seen in action on climate

Taking action on climate change may be good for the pocket as well as for the environment, the host of a climate change discussion says.

Altering behaviours such as energy use and reliance on fossil fuels would have an economic spin-off for people, particularly in rural areas, saving money as well as playing a part in mitigation or adaptation to climate change.

Central Otago Reap community sustainability facilitator Steve Brown, of Alexandra, facilitated the ''lunchbox conversation'' on climate change earlier this week as part of the Making a Difference for Central Otago (MAD4CO) World Environment Week events.

The theme of the meeting was ''raising your voice, not the sea level'', and its meaning for Central Otago.

Although only eight people attended the discussion, the small number allowed for good conversation and learning from each other, he said.

Participants could then take what they had learnt out into the community.

The conversation covered the implications, mitigation of, and adaptation to climate change in the region, which were likely to be different from many other areas in the country.

Warmer climate, more rain, and less snow, and therefore less snow melt, were all expected outcomes, Mr Brown said.

Other effects discussed were the possibility of higher insurance premiums due to damage of buildings in other regions nearer sea level, and the prospect of climate refugees from coastal areas in New Zealand, and overseas, coming to Central Otago.

The area could also become a ''food basket'', able to produce food for other regions, due to a warmer climate. However, loss of biodiversity could also be a consequence.

Mr Brown said he thought climate change was a neglected subject in Central Otago, and more people should be thinking and talking about it.

''... some people don't see the immediate effects so don't think it affects them, and sometimes it can be too hard to think about.''

If the district council were to consider action on the subject, a path to be taken could be strategic planning for adverse events such as floods, droughts, and fires, or the effect of biodiversity loss on agriculture, he said.

Climate change was an issue that was ''on the radar'' for MAD4CO, which would continue to focus on it in the future, Mr Brown said.

The discussion was one of a number of events held as a part of MAD4CO's World Environment Week celebrations, including the screening of a documentary called Alexandra Food Project on Wednesday, the feature event of the week, which ends today.


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