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Richard Bedford“New Zealand must contribute effectively to the global effort to avoid dangerous climate change. The Royal Society of New Zealand has developed expert advice on the implications of climate change for New Zealand, and on possible options New Zealand might take to reduce its emissions.

It is critical to communicate clearly New Zealand’s sensitivities to climate change and the need for responsive systems to address them. All New Zealanders will be affected and must be involved in the discussion. We hope these reports and associated activities can act as a basis for a wider national conversation.

Emeritus Professor Richard Bedford QSO FRSNZ, President of the Royal Society of New Zealand


Report: Climate Change Implications for New Zealand

New Zealand is being affected by climate change and impacts are set to increase in magnitude and extent over time.

This report describes in general terms the changes in climate that are expected globally and nationally during the 21st century, before focusing on six key areas of risk for New Zealand: coastal margins, flooding from rivers, availability of and competition for freshwater, changes to our surrounding oceans, threats to unique ecosystems, flow-on effects from climate change impacts and responses overseas.

Report: Climate Change Mitigation Options for New Zealand

Cover-full-report-Transition-to-Low-Carbon-Economy-for-NZAchieving a low-carbon economy for New Zealand involves taking low-risk climate mitigation actions now and planning for more ambitious greenhouse gas emissions in the future.

This report Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy for New Zealand takes an in-depth look into climate change mitigation options for New Zealand. The report identifies opportunities in the sectors of: heat supply, electricity supply, transport, buildings, industry, agriculture, forest and other land-use. 

Blog: Infrequently Asked Questions

Over the year, we have featured a number of members of the two climate change panels and other experts on climate change on our Infrequently Asked Questions IAQs blog on Sciblogs. 

IAQs blog: Floods for you; Sea level rise for me


Professor James Renwick. Photo: Victoria University of Wellington

With sixteen percent of New Zealanders living in the coastal zone, and two thirds in areas prone to flooding, most of us are likely to feel the watery effects of climate change. A new Royal Society of New Zealand report, Climate Change Implications for New Zealand, says your local council should be thinking about this. And they are, according to panel chair Professor James Renwick. He says that his is the easy job – telling councils what the science is. Councils have the hard job of figuring out what to do about it.


Dr Janet Stephenson, Director of the Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago

IAQs blog: Electric cars

Experts, just about everyone and even the government would like New Zealanders to be zipping around in electric cars. But it won’t happen, at least not rapidly. Otago University’s Director of the Centre for Sustainability Dr Janet Stephenson explains. She also tells us why New Zealanders are buying photovoltaic solar panels, wonders why we’re buying electric bicycles, and points out that the new Royal Society of New Zealand report on Climate Change Mitigation Options for New Zealand found only one highway to low emissions – reducing the use of fossil fuels.

IAQs blog: Counting carbon 

Professor Barry Barton, University of Waikato

One of the striking things for University of Waikato law Professor Barry Barton, while working on the Royal Society of New Zealand report Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy for New Zealand, was how often his scientific colleagues had to tell him they didn’t have necessary data on New Zealand’s carbon emissions options. Without that information, we don’t know where the good opportunities are. An expert in laws that change behaviour, Professor Barton says we need policy measures which actually tell you how much carbon they’ll save and, in the case of transport, make changes across the whole fleet.

  • Read IAQs blog on why having information on carbon emissions is important for finding the best policies to reduce them with Professor Barry Barton: Counting carbon – knowledge is power 

IAQs blog: Considering future risk from climate change

Dr Alison Greenaway

Dr Alison Greenaway

Our ability to care for the environment depends, in part, on our ability to navigate risk. This issue looms large with climate change, says senior Landcare Research researcher Dr Alison Greenaway, who worked on the Royal Society of New Zealand report Climate Change Implications for New Zealand. We need climate-sensitive institutions, says Dr Greenaway, as well as environmental management that draws on a wide range of cultural resources.

  • Read IAQs blog on why our ability to care for the environment depends, in part, on our ability to navigate risk with Landcare Researcher’s Dr Alison Greenaway: Climate: considering future risk. 

IAQs blog: Kids catastrophising climate change


Susan van der Spuy holding a bracket fungus in the Fungarium at Landcare Research.

It’s good to keep things positive, says Macleans College teacher Susan van der Spuy, when teaching science and environmental issues to children. Otherwise they can tend to think the whole planet is going to burn up. Mrs van der Spuy, who recently finished a placement at Landcare Research under the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Science Teaching Leadership Programme, gives a teacher’s perspective on preparing students to tackle an uncertain future.

IAQs blog: New Zealand needs climate leadership

Professor Ralph Sims

Professor Ralph Sims

We’ve got to get cracking – grow trees, stop wasting food, stop burning coal, electrify the vehicle fleet. That’s the message from Massey University’s Professor Ralph Sims, who chaired the panel which produced the Royal Society of New Zealand report Transition to a low-carbon economy for New Zealand. Six months after the report we still lack leadership, says Professor Sims. Individuals, businesses, towns and cities are moving faster than the government on reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet our climate change targets.

Climate change events and multi-media


The Royal Society of New Zealand supported the New Zealand’s Climathon event, hosted by Wellington on 28-29 October. This 24-hour fast paced, global event focused on solving meaningful climate change problems.climathon

Visit to learn more.

Ten by Ten: Ten things you didn’t know about climate change …

Tenbyten_2016CC_logoClimate change is already redefining coastlines and the weather, both here in New Zealand and around the world. But will it affect me and what can I do about it?

Professors Tim Naish and James Renwick from Victoria University of Wellington give their take on this biggest of issues – from the very local to the global in our annual Ten by Ten series.

View presentation slides (PDF, 3.9 MB)

Cities of Tomorrow

Logo_Cities_NEW_WhiteBackgroundIn August 2016 we ran a series of talks with the Embassy of France looking at how we can make our cities more sustainable. These discussions were chaired by current affairs presenter Kim Hill and recorded by RNZ




Integrating the networks in our cities can bring financial and social benefits and develop a smarter city.  We know that connectivity and mobility facilitates innovation and creativity but what makes a really buzzy city, both economically and culturally? Listen to Cities of Tomorrow: Smart Hubs on RNZ


Our wellbeing is said to be influenced by our natural environment – so what is the cost of losing it? The second panel in Wellington will discuss how a sustainable city can meet the needs of its present population without sacrificing the needs of future generations. Do large future environmental changes offer an opportunity rather than a risk? How can a city positively interact with the environment, locally and globally? Listen to Cities of Tomorrow: Greener Places on RNZ.


At the heart of every city are its people. What does it mean for a city to be inclusive, and how can we manage human interactions in an age of rising inequalities? The final panel in Christchurch will consider how we build a collective spirit between individuals, communities, social infrastructure providers and governance groups in our cities, and how we encourage people to be civically engaged. Listen to Cities of Tomorrow: A better life? on RNZ.

View Cities of Tomorrow webpage for more information on panel members.

Thirty Million

CharKukriMukri Girl-homeA free screening of climate change film Thirty Million followed by Q&A with filmmaker and climate scientists was held on 30 June 2016 in Wellington. 

Climate change poster competition

Picture1A poster competition for Year 7 and 8 students for them to show what actions we can take to reduce climate change in New Zealand. 



Climate change education resources

  • Climate Change, CREST and “Thin Ice”
    Students undertaking a Bronze or Silver CREST award are able to connect these with the Thin Ice resource. About Thin Ice Geologist Simon Lamb takes a look…
  • Primary CREST: NIWA Ocean Investigations
    A series of activities related to the sea from New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, provider of atmospheric and aquatic science and associated commercial services.
  • Primary CREST: NIWA Oceans Rising
    The resources for this NIWA/Primary CREST Oceans Rising (PDF, 1.5 MB)context have been sourced from the SEREAD educational resources originally designed for teaching and learning…
  • Primary CREST: NIWA What is Climate?
    The resources for this context have been sourced from the SEREAD educational resources originally designed for teaching and learning programmes in the Pacific Islands. SEREAD…
  • Primary CREST: NIWA What is Weather
    The resources for this context have been sourced from the SEREAD educational resources originally designed for teaching and learning programmes in the Pacific Islands. SEREAD…

Historical education resources