Mother loses cool over climate change
Port Chalmers mother of four, Nicky Chapman, is angry about climate change. So angry she’s launched a formal petition to
Parliament, and within a few days has already gathered hundreds of signatures.
“Climate change is hard to imagine. It’s not like a war, although it’s more serious. It was when I read about the Arctic
seas going acid that it suddenly hit me. I grew up by the sea, I love it. Most Kiwis do.
This is not what we want for any of our kids or children throughout the world. I had to do something. The petition is
the result. It is the only formal written climate change petition going to the Government,” said Mrs Chapman.
“Climate change is real. But it’s not bigger than all of us, if we work together. We’ve got so many talents, skills and
good ideas in this country. What we need is a shared sense of direction about this huge issue.
Let’s harness our skills. Let’s work with other countries, and be seen to be positive team players. We are going to lose
out big time, long term if we are seen as green shams.”
The petition calls for the Government to set a greenhouse gases target of no more than 350 parts per million (ppm) of
carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents in the atmosphere.
“That’s what the scientists now think is the safe upper limit, so that is the sensible place to aim for,” says Mrs
Chapman. “The current levels are nearly at 390 ppm of CO2, so we are like a patient with high cholesterol – we are not
dying yet but we need to act fast.”
“This petition is also about working in partnership, and at every level, with a common goal. We need to keep turning
good ideas into climate change solutions – and sharing those ideas around.”
The petition is being promoted by people-power. “I’ve had huge support from the Catholic and other churches, as well as
community, environmental and nation-wide groups. Individuals are emailing the petition to their friends, putting it up
in cafes, at work, in their local hairdresser, at schools, anywhere they can think of. ”
To download a copy of the petition, go to www.caritas.org.nz
, and print it out. Any age can sign. Petitions need to be returned by the 2nd of December.
Its organisers plan to present it before the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference which starts on the 7th of December.
What's 350 all about?!
“350 parts per million (ppm) is the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) that scientists say is the safe
upper limit for humanity. We're currently at around 389ppm, and rising at 2ppm per year. This December, world leaders
will meet in Copenhagen to decide on a global treaty that will determine how the world responds to the climate change
challenge. Many scientists are calling these the most important international negotiations ever...” (www.350.org.nz
Why the urgency?
“In the Maldive Islands ... every storm surge and major upwelling of the seas represents a major danger to life and
property...Climate change is already resulting in an increase in the frequency, intensity and duration of floods,
droughts and heat waves...” Dr R K Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (www.ipcc.ch/pdf/presentations/rkpstatement- unccs-09.pdf
“... As Arctic sea ice melts, the darker ocean absorbs more sunlight and speeds melting. As tundra melts, methane, a
strong greenhouse gas, is released, causing more warming. As species are pressured and exterminated by shifting climate
zones, ecosystems can collapse, destroying more species.’ Jim Hansen, leading climate change scientist (www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2009/20090713_Strategies.pdf
“Our excessive reliance on a fossil fuel-based economy is destroying our planet's resources. It is impoverishing the
poor. It is weakening the security of nations. And it is choking global economic potential. ...Many scientists are
saying that worst-case projections are already being realized – indeed surpassed. This was the message from the
International Scientific Congress, held here in Copenhagen in March.” UN Secretary- General, Ban Ki-moon (www.copenhagenclimatecouncil.com/get-informed/news/openingaddress-
But how can we be sure about climate change?
The research on climate change is probably the largest international scientific research exercise ever. The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which completed its fourth report in November 2007 was “the collective effort
of almost four thousand of the world’s best specialists working tirelessly over five years.” This huge effort was unique
because all the governments of the world approved of this report. (www.ipcc.ch/pdf/presentations/rkp-statement-unccs-09.pdf
Won’t our economy suffer if we try too hard?
Our exports rely on how other countries see us. We need to work with other countries, and be seen to be positive team
players. We are going to lose out big time, long term if we are seen as green shams. We have specialised expertise, and
great skills and ideas in this country. We need to harness that very real resource, and use it for our country's and the
world's benefit “Climate change is the defining challenge of our time. I also believe it is the most potent game-changer
for business over the next century. It is an opportunity we must seize.” UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon (www.copenhagenclimatecouncil.com/get-informed/news/opening-address-of-ban-ki-moonto-
What is the current NZ Government position?
The Government has announced ‘an emissions reduction target range of 10-20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 to signal
New Zealand’s commitment.’ (http://www.climatechange.govt.nz/
retrieved 9 Nov 2009) This is not enough to prevent the impending disasters. We need a stronger safer target, as well
as a commitment to rapidly removing CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.