Where in the world are you?
Wellington, New Zealand
What do you do in the world?
My job and my personal passion are to encourage and support people to be part of the solution to climate change. I've worked on climate change policy for over 20 years in the public, private and NGO sectors.
Right now I do research and dialogue on New Zealand's low-emission future at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research and as a consultant at Silver Lining Global Solutions. The views I express here are my own.
Personally, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, tramping, singing and exploring a spiritual path.
In one sentence, what is climate change?
Human-induced climate change is an avoidable crisis-in-waiting and an invitation to innovate and work together to safeguard current and future generations.
How does climate change affect your life?
Climate change inspires me to work on mitigation policy because I want to contribute to a positive vision for our future and the future of other species and I know that practical solutions are available.
Climate change also motivates me to take steps to reduce my own emissions footprint. Climate change impacts will affect where I choose to live and (hopefully one day) buy a home.
What do you feel you can do about it?
I can adjust my personal lifestyle (especially eating less meat and dairy, taking public transport, using less energy, composting green waste, reducing other waste and buying less stuff). I can do research to understand climate change causes and solutions, and share what I learn with others. I can talk with people with different backgrounds and values to learn more about their views on climate change, find common ground and explore how we can work together. I can raise my voice to help to make climate change an election issue and vote for the leaders offering the best climate change solutions. I can buy from the businesses and countries that are committed to reducing emissions. I can contribute my time and funding to other people and organisations working on preventing climate change.
Do you feel there is more you could do? If so, what is stopping you from doing those things?
I could do more as an individual if I was supported by large-scale changes to our underlying energy generation, transport, building and food production systems. That requires alignment of social consensus with government policy and business action. It also requires cross-party commitment to a long-term rising emission price across the economy. We need more cross-party and cross-sector dialogue on how to craft smart transformational pathways toward zero-net emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases in New Zealand.
Work-wise, I could join with others in making a bigger contribution if there were more sources of funding for climate change problem solving and social change from the government, business and philanthropic communities. There are energised individuals and transformational ideas out there in need of funding to make a difference.
There are areas of my personal lifestyle where I am choosing moderation rather than exclusion of emitting activities. I miss my family overseas and still travel to see them. I use electric heating when it is cold. I still eat some dairy and meat. I borrow my partner’s car sometimes. But I am making choices mindfully to reduce my contribution to global emissions.
What's your favourite Sunday afternoon activity?
Going tramping in the New Zealand bush on a sunny day.
Free space: write anything you like, nothing at all, or ask us a question
We face important choices every day about the kind of future we want to leave to our children and grandchildren. Everyone can do something to help avoid dangerous climate change.
Extra for experts: When did you first become active in climate change?
I grew up in the US. In college I spent a semester at the Duke University Marine Laboratory and took courses on the geology of climate change and emerging environmental literature like “Earth in the Balance” (Al Gore) and “The End of Nature” (Bill McKibben). That was back in 1992, the year when the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was being negotiated. What I learned sparked my desire to try to help with this potentially devastating, self-imposed and very avoidable problem. In the next semester I took a course on US environmental policy, started reading Congressional testimony on climate change and energy issues and got hooked. After I graduated from college, I moved to Washington, DC. My first job was on environmental policy for local government, but I couldn’t stay away from climate change policy and every job since then has involved working on this issue from different angles.
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