It's time for all of us to take action on climate change. That was the message promoted at our Gig for Good over the weekend by a line up of leading local artists and the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw (pictured with musician Jason Kerrison, left). It's also at the top of the agenda for leaders and diplomats from about 200 countries meeting in Poland right now.
It’s probably the most important meeting since the Paris climate change agreement was reached in 2015. Now governments are hammering out the rules for making it happen. Climate change has been described by many, including our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, as one of the greatest challenges of our time. It’s also one of the most urgent.
That need for urgency is becoming more obvious almost daily as the impacts of climate change make themselves felt through record temperatures, fires and extreme weather events. Carbon emissions are rising again after a four year lull and the IPCC recently released a special report warning that there are only 12 years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C. At that level things will still be bad. Anything higher will be catastrophic.
That’s a view echoed by Sir David Attenborough who addressed the opening of the Poland climate talks on Monday.
“Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon,” he told delegates.
So what can we do about it? We all need to make changes to the way we live our lives. Some of those changes may be challenging, others will seem like a natural choice - like switching to clean solar energy.
It was against this backdrop that we hosted a free Gig for Good on Auckland’s waterfront on Saturday to celebrate the start of summer (which, in a touch or irony, missed the party altogether) and the public launch of our solarZero service.
As part of the event, Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced the official launch of the solarZero virtual power plant which we’re creating with our network of customers. As we’re now installing one in every three new solar systems in New Zealand that network is growing fast. Read more here.
We’ve calculated that if we could cover an area the size of Rangitoto with solar panels, New Zealand would no longer need to burn dirty fossil fuels to generate electricity.
Here’s what James Shaw had to say to the crowd.
“One of the most significant things that we can do as a country is to move towards 100% renewable, completely green, zero emission electricity generation.
“Wouldn't it be great if we all had our own rooftop solar and we were all contributing to the solution of climate change and we were all lowering our power bills?
“Events like today help to kind of spread the consciousness that this is the future and that we don't need old fossil fuelled power stations. We can actually do it at a community scale and in our own homes.”
Earlier in the day singer Moses Mackay from SOL3 MIO told event host Aziz Al-Sa'afin that it was vital to raise awareness about climate change so that action is taken to protect future generations.
“There are islands in the Pacific that are disappearing. That's happening now. We live in paradise but there are places in the world where they aren't.”
Musician Jason Kerrison told roving interviewer Belinda Henley that he was pleased Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had set 2035 as a target for shifting New Zealand to 100% renewable electricity.
“I would have preferred she went with something a bit sooner...but I'm really stoked they're committed to it and we're seeing the differences we can get out of that kind of commitment.”
Other leading musicians big on sustainability to perform at our Gig for Good included Caleb from Sons of Zion, Jon Lemmon and The Beat Council. While the weather reduced numbers at the venue, about 1500 people watched the event online.
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