Friday, 19 December 2014

6 ways to have a low-emissions Christmas and New Years

By Judd Ormsby

This is the last post on this site for the year so I thought I’d try make it a fun one. In this post I take a look at six fun ideas that might help you reduce your emissions. If you have some more ideas drop them in the comments below.

1) Quit your job!

Okay maybe that’s a bit extreme, but the best predictor of consumption emissions seems to be your expenditure.  But if you are considering cutting back your hours, well now you know it could help the planet. (Actually it’s ultimately humans you’re helping, not so much the planet. Planets don’t have feelings.)

2) Save, don’t spend. Enjoy more leisure and less consumption

My colleagues having a jam at our Christmas party

Monday, 15 December 2014

Willingness to change: The “elephant in the room” for climate mitigation

By Catherine Leining, Policy Fellow, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

Mara Ellis | © Xtremesafari | Dreamstime Stock Photo
I read an inspiring story recently about Dr Donald Berwick, former CEO of the US Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). His research showed that hospitals were repeatedly making avoidable mistakes that were costing patients’ lives. Although he only had a tiny staff and limited resources, he decided that things needed to change. At a convention of US hospital administrators in 2004, he set out a challenge: saving 100,000 lives in the next 18 months. He spoke to the heart of why change was needed, identified six clear, manageable interventions and launched a campaign to enrol hospitals in making the necessary changes. He knew it would be hard for hospitals to admit they were routinely making mistakes and change standard practices, but he made it easy for hospitals to join and provided mentoring, information sharing and feedback. Eighteen months later, they had prevented an estimated 122,300 avoidable deaths (Heath and Heath 2010).
How does this story relate to climate change? Collectively our society is repeatedly taking avoidable actions which are changing the climate and causing harm. Like the hospitals at the beginning of the story, we have practical solutions with valuable benefits at our fingertips but we aren’t using them seriously yet. Fundamentally, the challenge of climate change is a challenge of people change. In government departments, businesses and households, our lack of willingness to change is the figurative “elephant in the room.” 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Betting the farm on it – how rural land use (may) change with recent commodity prices and land sales

By Zack Dorner

Farming is a risky business, as is forestry. You are at the whim of the weather and international commodity prices which, as we have been reminded by recent dairy prices, can drop rapidly without much warning. Meanwhile, farmers have to make long term decisions about capital investments, or decide whether to convert from one type of a farm to another. Foresters must plant trees which won’t pay off for several decades. Given the importance of rural land use for New Zealand’s economy and environment, it is important that we understand better how land use changes in response to economic drivers.

For my honours thesis last year I decided to look into recent rural land use changes in New Zealand and whether changes may be associated with recent commodity prices and land sales. I’m very happy that my thesis has now taken the form of a Motu Working paper, which has just been released. In lieu of you having to read the full paper (though of course I encourage you to do so!), here is a quick summary of some things I learnt along the way.