The Wise Response Society is anxious the underlying message in a suite of recent reports about the evolving climate crisis is fully recognised and heeded. While the New Zealand Government has been making big efforts to address national climate risks, what these reports together do is reinforce the need for all sectors of the economy and society to embrace the required changes with utmost urgency and purpose.
Wise Response Society: Press Statement, 29 Nov 2019
Recent Climate Reports Underscore Genuine Emergency
The Wise Response Society is anxious the underlying message in a suite of recent
reports about the evolving climate crisis is fully recognised and heeded. While the
New Zealand Government has been making big efforts to address national climate
risks, what these reports together do is reinforce the need for all sectors of the
economy and society to embrace the required changes with utmost urgency and
A group of eminent scientists have stated that the tipping points could be exceeded between
1 and 20C warming and lead to a cascade of unstoppable events (reported in Nature 27 Nov.
2019). The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has reported that yet another high
record level of Greenhouse Gas concentration has been reached (20 Nov. 2019). The UN
Environmental Programme (UNEP) has stated that a 1.50C target is now slipping out of reach
(20 Nov. 2019).
The World Scientists (over 11,000) Warning of a Climate Emergency stated that our goals
need to shift from GDP growth and the pursuit of affluence, towards sustaining ecosystems
and improving human well-being by prioritizing basic needs and reducing inequality
(BioScience 5 Nov).
Sir Alan Mark, FRSNZ, Chair of Wise Response, a Society largely comprising academics
from across New Zealand, said “We therefore call on all New Zealanders to move from a
business-as-usual economic model and adopt an economy and way of life that enables us to
live within earth’s natural support systems “.
In another disturbing report, the Global Energy Monitor has reported that China has increased
its coal power capacity to 43GW between Jan 2018 and June 2019, while elsewhere in the
world there has been a decrease of 8.1GW. Should China continue to increase its total coal
power capacity through to 2035, its coal generation alone could be more than three times as
large as the global limit on coal power use, determined by the IPCC to keep warming well
This surge of disturbing reports may be timed to influence the UN Climate Change
Conference, now transferred from Chile to Spain, to be held 2-13 December, where a key
objective is to seek “full operationalization” of the Paris Climate Change Agreement before all
signatories are to submit National Climate Action Plans in 2020.”If that is the case, all power
to them, as clearly a step change is needed right now” said Sir Alan.
Prof Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre offers a possible pathway. He has pointed out that
the wealthiest 10% in the world are responsible for 49% of the GHG emissions. So if they
were to cut their emissions to around 8 tonnes of CO2e per capita, global emissions would be
reduced by one third, even without any change from the other 90%.
“While most NZers will fall outside this highly wealthy category, with a little forethought and
planning, halving our current per capita emissions rate from 16 tonnes of CO2e should be
largely painless and potentially very satisfying”
“One thing’s for sure” he added, ” the science is telling us failure to re-stabilise climate will
deliver our children a painful hospital pass which surely none of us would want knowingly, to
be part of”.
Contact: Dugald MacTavish (Secretary, Wise Response Society, Tel 034394824,