Our climate is changing, with big implications for the building industry. BRANZ is working with partners to help the industry reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be better prepared to cope with the changes.
Climate patterns have always changed, but significant changes now under way have been attributed to human activities. Increasing levels of gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning coal, oil and gas are acting like a greenhouse, lifting temperatures.
Climate change creates extreme weather conditions. Most of the excess heat is absorbed by the sea. As seawater gets warmer, it expands, so sea levels rise, with water also coming from melting polar ice and glaciers. Sea levels around New Zealand have risen by up to 220 mm in the last century and are expected to rise by a further 300–400 mm in just the next 30–40 years.
The Ministry for the Environment says there are likely to be higher temperatures, especially in the northeast of the North Island. In the built environment, increased temperatures mean reduced comfort and potential business disruptions. There may be greater demand for air-conditioning systems and therefore electricity in summer. Hotter summers can damage infrastructure and result in more severe droughts.
As part of global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, New Zealand made a commitment to reduce emissions to 50% below 1990 levels by 2050. However, a Bill is now going through Parliament that sets a target of net-zero carbon emissions for New Zealand by 2050.
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