1 in 5 Kiwis don't believe in climate change — new research

Source: 1News

One in five Kiwis don’t believe in climate change, while 43 per cent of businesses say New Zealand is too small to have any real impact on the environment, according to new research. 

Research for the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority's Gen Less found four in ten surveyed believe they could be doing more for climate change. 

Energy-related emissions make up 41 per cent of New Zealand’s total emissions, while transport makes up 43 per cent. 

However, 81 per cent of those surveyed believed recycling would help combat climate change, and favoured that over higher-impact actions like driving less (30 per cent of respondents) or purchasing products with low carbon footprints (32 per cent). 

Businesses also reported that they lacked reason to act - over one third believed climate change wouldn’t impact their business. Only about 20 per cent felt they felt any pressure from customers and suppliers to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

EECA’s Jo Bye said the findings were “sobering”, but that the 80 per cent of people who did believe in climate change could push for meaningful action. 

Bye said people needed to realise that climate change was an urgent issue. 

“It can be hard because there are other pressing issues that trump climate change - it’s indistinguishable in our daily lives, it’s slow-moving, it’s invisible so we think we can kind of put it off, or we think that we’re too small to have any kind of impacts,” she said. 

“New Zealanders have never shied away from being too small before. We want to remind them of that fact.” 

She said businesses could also benefit by showing consumers they were taking climate action. 

“If you’re a business owner or an investor or decision-maker, we have an opportunity to build back better post this pandemic and to lean into the innovative opportunities."

She said there were opportunities for environmental action for businesses when it considered its fuel sources, manufacturing processes, and how it transports goods. 

Victoria University climate researcher Dr James Renwick said the impacts of climate change on things like the economy and food security could be “overwhelming” and “astronomical” if no action is taken. 

“It’s always going to be cheaper to take action on climate change than deal with the consequences.”

The EECA research was completed by TRA from July to September 2021.