Climate change will affect us all during our lifetimes. The impacts we observe today are the result of historical emissions, and the increase in emissions in recent decades will lead to significant change in the coming years. Climate change presents significant opportunities, challenges and risks to communities throughout the world, and in New Zealand. Our role is to support the Canterbury region and our communities to better understand and proactively respond to climate change risks and opportunities.

What is climate change?

Earth’s atmosphere is made up of oxygen, a large amount of nitrogen and a small percentage of greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gases act like a blanket around the earth. They trap warmth from the sun and make life on earth possible. Without them, too much heat would escape and the surface of the planet would freeze.  However, the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere causes the earth to heat more and the climate to change.

This process is often called global warming, but it is better to think of it as climate change because it is likely to change other aspects of climate as well as temperature, and also bring about more extreme climate events such as floods, storms, cyclones and droughts.

You can find out more about climate change, and its causes and effects on the Ministry for the Environment(external link) website.