How do we respond to Climate Change
Climate change is a challenge that everyone needs to address, all the way from government through to individuals – with business, science, research, government, non-governmental organisations and communities all playing a part.
Actions in response to climate change generally fall into two categories: mitigation and adaption. In broad terms, climate change mitigation is about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change adaptation is about anticipating and adapting to the impacts of climate change.
Mitigation is about taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so that the severity of climate change will be lessened. Examples are the setting of emission reduction targets at the international level to limit average global temperature rise (e.g. Paris Agreement), national level (e.g. New Zealand’s proposed target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050) and local and individual levels (e.g. by measuring and reducing the carbon emissions of organisations and individuals).
Adaptation anticipates and deals with the effects of climate change, helping to build greater resilience by harnessing innovation and responding to impacts such as rising sea levels and coastal hazards or droughts. Most adaptation action takes place at a local and community level (e.g. through land use planning).
Mitigation and adaptation are closely linked: the more we take action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, the better the chance that we will have fewer impacts to adapt to in the future. Some actions we can take contribute to both areas, for example, planting coastal vegetation which absorbs carbon (mitigation) and protects properties at the same time by stabilising coastlines (adaptation).