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CO2 Hits 400 ppm - Time for NZ to Rise to Challenge

Press release, Generation Zero

As the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million (ppm), youth climate change organisation Generation Zero says it is time for New Zealand to rise to the challenge of building a zero carbon future.

On Friday 10 May, measurements of carbon dioxide concentration at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii surpassed 400 ppm - a level the Earth has not seen for three to five million years.

The steadily rising levels of greenhouse gases are warming the Earth and laying the way for severe global temperature rise this century, which the World Bank warns will trigger a “cascade of cataclysmic changes” if the global community fails to act.

Generation Zero spokesperson Louis Chambers said: “It's time for New Zealand to emerge from the fog of indecision and start building a future we can be proud of.

“In 40 years' time, our children won't care about how soon the government got its books back in surplus, or what Aaron Gilmore said to that waiter – they will ask us what we did to protect our destabilising climate and accelerate the shift to clean, sustainable energy.

“With this year's droughts, changes accelerating at the poles and extreme weather around the globe, the signs of climate disruption are hitting us in the face – and the wallet.

“But it's not too late for us to tackle this. Moving beyond fossil fuels is 100% Possible.”

In its 2007 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that taking action to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at 450 ppm CO2-equivalent – believed to give roughly a 50/50 chance of keeping warming below the international goal of 2°C – would reduce annual average GDP growth rates by less than 0.12% per year.

However, the International Energy Agency has estimated that each year of delayed action adds $500 billion to the ultimate cost of avoiding dangerous climate change.

Mr Chambers: “Delay is a false economy and is simply lumping more costs and risks onto young people. The sooner we act, the better the odds of preserving a safe climate and the cheaper the transition will be.

“Countries like Denmark are leading the way with a cross-party plan to be fossil fuel-independent by 2050. We need our government to pull its head out of the sand and start showing the responsible leadership required.

“New Zealand needs a comprehensive climate change plan. Right now our government has no plan at all. It’s up to us as New Zealanders to hold them to account for this failure.”


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