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Have a climate friendly summer holiday

Mon, 20 Dec 2004

Have a climate friendly summer holiday

Handy tips to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions over the summer holidays

Thinking about the choices you make about the energy you use, the transport you take and what you do with your waste over the summer break could help reduce the build up of greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change.

Greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun and act like an invisible blanket around Earth which makes its surface warmer. The warmer Earth gets, the more the climate is likely to change. Such changes are likely to include warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, increasing extreme climatic events (such as droughts and floods) and changes in rainfall patterns (wetter in the west and drier in the east).

However, there are lots of simple things New Zealanders are already beginning to do to be climate-friendly these summer holidays. Remember, small steps do count!

Complete the following quiz to find out what you can do to help reduce the effects of climate change these holidays (refer below for the answers).

Climate change quiz

1. You're going on holiday and want to save electricity while you're away. How long do you have to be away to make it financially beneficial to turn off your hot water cylinder? A. One week B. Two weeks C. Three weeks

2. You've put on a summer BBQ and have a lot of dishes to wash. Which option uses the least amount of electricity? A. Using your dishwasher on economy cycle B. Washing the dishes in the sink by hand

3. How much money a year do you spend on running your beer fridge? A. $35 B. $55 C. $75

4. You're mowing your lawn over the holiday period. To ensure you're producing the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions, what should you do with the grass clippings? A. Take your clippings to a landfill B. Don't use a catcher when mowing and allow the clippings to scatter over the lawn C. Mix the clippings with the compost heap in your garden

5. Every month, New Zealanders dispose of enough rubbish to fill a rugby field to 30 stories high. How much of this could be composted (on average)? A. A rugby field to 3 stories high B. A rugby field to 9 stories high C. A rugby field to 14 stories high

6. You decide you want to go on a summer holiday for a week. Which travel option produces the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions? A. Flying to a main city centre in New Zealand and doing a walking tour of the city sites B. Driving around the country for a week visiting family and friends C. Flying to Australia and camping in a national park

7. You decide to take a five-day summer holiday in your local region. Which option produces the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions? A. A tramping trip in a local national park but enjoying the comforts of a luxury hotel each night B. A visit to a local winery each day by bus and staying in bed and breakfast accommodation at night C. Using your home as a base, but departing each day to enjoy some fun activities with the family including a scenic helicopter ride, jet boating, a picnic in a park and a trip to the local zoo

8. You're driving to a friend's bach and in a hurry to reach your destination. How much more fuel would your car use travelling at 100km/hr compared to cruising at 90 km/hr? A. Up to 5% B. Up to 10% C. Up to 15%

9. You're waiting in your car for your friend to come out of the fish 'n chip shop. After how long would it be more efficient to turn your engine off, then restart it, rather than continuing to idle? A. 30 seconds to 1 minute B. 2 minutes C. 5 - 7 minutes

10. You're going back and forth between rooms as you clean the house ready for your holiday guests. What is the best way to make sure your lights aren't needlessly wasting energy? A. Keep the lights on as you go from room to room until the job is done B. Turn the lights off every time you leave a room and then on again when you return

Refer below for the answers to the above questions.

Thanks for taking the climate quiz and have a Merry Christmas!

Climate change information

The world has realised that the climate is changing and people across the globe are taking action to reduce human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change means the world is increasingly likely to experience increases in temperature, rising sea levels, more frequent extreme weather events and a change in rainfall patterns. These climatic changes are likely to impact on our native ecosystems, industries, infrastructure, health, biosecurity and economy.

Fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas are burned to power factories and make electricity for homes and businesses and this produces carbon dioxide. Therefore the more oil, coal, gas and electricity we use, the more carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere.

Large amounts of organic waste (such as grass clippings, kitchen scraps and rotting wood) in landfills produce methane as they decompose - because the piles of waste are so huge, not much oxygen can get in to help the break down process, therefore methane is produced.

Increasing greenhouse gas emissions from human activities such as transportation, industry, agriculture, energy production and deforestation are likely to have caused most of Earth's warming in the last 50 years.

The biggest amount of carbon dioxide in New Zealand comes from the use of transport and from making electricity (about one third of our electricity is generated from fossil fuels such as coal and gas which emit carbon dioxide when burned).

At the moment, New Zealand's gross greenhouse gas emissions are about 21.9% above what they were in 1990. Our Kyoto Protocol target is to reduce our net greenhouse gas emissions to the level they were in 1990. Together we can take steps to help reduce the effects of climate change.

The New Zealand Climate Change Office The New Zealand Climate Change Office (NZCCO) at the Ministry for the Environment is responsible for advice on and implementation of climate change policy. This is a whole-of-government approach and several other departments have responsibility for different parts of the policy. The climate change policy is designed to enable and encourage New Zealanders to make significant greenhouse gas reductions. The NZCCO is also responsible for managing risks and opportunities arising from the effects of climate change.

Website information: and


1. Answer: A If you go away for a week, it is still worth turning your water cylinder off, as it is pointless to waste energy you are not going to use. It will take about two hours for an average cylinder to heat the water up to 60°C when you come back.

2. Answer: A Surprisingly, a modern dishwasher will be more efficient as it will draw cold water and use the minimum amount of energy. On most cycles, it would usually use a lot less energy to run its internal water heating element for a full load of dishes than it would if you used hot water straight from the tap to wash the same amount of dishes by hand (even taking into consideration the energy used to power the dishwasher).

3. Answer: C Around 350,000 New Zealand households have a second fridge, most of which are not very energy efficient and consume a minimum of $75 of electricity a year. Are you sure you can't fit that six-pack into your main fridge?

4. Answer: B Grass clippings (and other organic waste such as food scraps) produce the potent greenhouse gas 'methane' as they break down in landfills. This is because there are such large piles of organic waste in landfills that oxygen can't get into the waste to help the breakdown process. The more organic waste there is in landfills, the more methane is produced. When grass clippings or kitchen scraps decompose in your own compost heap, a lot more oxygen can get into the waste, so less methane is produced. Scattering the clippings on your lawn is the best option because the clippings don't build up in a pile and therefore no methane is produced.

5. Answer: C 45% of the average rubbish bag could be composted - that's a huge waste of space in our landfills. What's more, much larger amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane are produced by organic waste (such as kitchen scraps and grass clippings) in landfills. This is because the piles of waste at landfills are so huge, that oxygen can't get into the waste to help the breakdown process. The more organic waste there is in landfills, the more methane is produced. It is much better to let this waste decompose in your own compost heap as a lot more oxygen can get into the waste (smaller pile), so less methane is produced. If you mow your lawn, leave the clippings to scatter over the lawn if possible as this produces no methane. As for the other 55% of your rubbish bag, make sure you put any plastic, glass, tin and paper items into your recycling bin.

6. Answer: B A return air trip to any destination emits many more carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than driving a car because of the huge amount of fuel a plane uses. For example, a return trip from Christchurch to Melbourne will emit about 664 kg of CO2 per person, a return flight from Auckland to Dunedin will emit about 281 kg of CO2 per person. However, driving from Auckland to Wellington, and back again, only emits about 55 kg of CO2 per person. Camping and walking tours are good activities, as they don't produce any CO2. [NB: plane emissions are based on an average passenger loading per trip and car emissions are based on one person in the car per trip.]

7. Answer: B In option A, the energy one person would use in a luxury hotel for four nights would translate to about 32 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2), but the tramping trip involves no transport use (therefore there are no CO2 emissions from fuel). Total = about 32 kg CO2. In option B, staying in a B&B each night would emit about 17 kg of CO2. The bus tour of the wineries (approximately 50 km's) would emit about 6 kg of CO2 per person (including the emissions produced at each winery visit). Total = about 23 kg CO2. In option C, the CO2 produced in a private home is much less than the other two options at about 6 kg of CO2 per person. However, water activities such as jet boating emit about 15 kg of CO2 per person and air activities, such as a scenic helicopter flight, produces about 28 kg of CO2 per person. A trip to a local zoo (or park) emits about 0.2 kg of CO2 per person. Total = about 49 kg of CO2

8. Answer: C The faster you go, the more fuel your car will use. The extra time it would take to travel 50km at 90 km/hr compared to 100 km/hr is only about 3 ½ minutes, but you will save up to 15% on fuel! Other ways to reduce your vehicle's fuel consumption include keeping its tyres inflated to the highest pressure recommended by the manufacturer, making sure your wheels are properly aligned, removing your roof rack when you don't need it and getting your vehicle serviced regularly. Braking and accelerating excessively uses up more fuel, therefore producing more carbon dioxide - which contributes to climate change. Go easy on the pedal! [NB: this answer has been calculated for a 2-litre car.]

9. Answer: A Even though your engine uses fuel when it needs to be re-started, the amount is so small that the break-even point is between 30 seconds and one minute. So next time you're in your car with your engine running waiting for someone for longer than one minute - turn it off. You will save on fuel and will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. N:B This doesn't apply to hybrid vehicles which rely on their electric engine when idling.

10. Answer: B The amount of energy needed to activate a light bulb (including standard and compact fluorescent bulbs) is minimal. So it's better to turn off lights when you leave a room and turn them on again when you return to save energy. Turning any bulb on and off reduces its life by a very small amount and the energy you save by turning lights off when you leave rooms will greatly outweigh any loss of life of your bulb. Buy compact fluorescent light bulbs (available at supermarkets and hardware stores), which consume about one quarter of the energy consumed by conventional light bulbs and last around eight times longer!

How Did You Score?

To learn more about actions you can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change visit

For simple ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change visit:


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