22 Dec 2009

New Zealanders advised to make up for Copenhagen failure

9:56 pm on 22 December 2009

New Zealanders are being urged to take their own action against climate change, following the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit to pass a legally binding treaty.

As well, businesses are being warned that delaying action on climate change will cost them in the long term.

Leaders in public policy, business and science met in Wellington on Tuesday to discuss the outcome of the Copenhagen summit.

An accord by the 193 summit delegates sets the maximum increase in global temperatures at 2 degrees Celsius, but falls short of holding any nation to specific greenhouse gas emission reductions.

The director of engineering and advanced technology at Massey University, Professor Ralph Sims, says ordinary people do not have to wait for political agreement to change their own behaviour.

And he says local governments could take a lead in helping communities and individuals reduce their carbon footprint.

Businesses told to 'act now'

The chief executive of New Zealand's Business Council for Sustainable Development says the lack of a clear political signal from the Copenhagen summit means businesses will be reluctant to act to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Peter Neilsen says the longer decisions about climate policy are delayed, the more costly it will be for businesses to change their practices. He says smart business owners will start reducing their emissions now, but only so far as is economically viable.