PALMY BEYOND PETROL: our vision for the city, celebrated in a great day out

Transport is one of PNCET’s key areas of interest. Last November we held a one day festival ‘Palmy Beyond Petrol: a celebration of active transport’ at Te Manawa to raise awareness of cycling featuring different local cycling groups, businesses and enthusiasts. It was Palmerston North’s contribution to the Global Day of Action on Climate Change (Nov 29 2016), alongside a climate march around the square organised by Youth Action Group Manawatu. We showcased all things local cycling! During the day, we highlighted how active transport helps minimise climate change by decreasing personal carbon footprints.

The Green Bikes Trust came, with bike maintenance information. Electric Bikes Palmerston North showcased their great range of e-bikes, tuk-tuks and tandems. We had E-cars on display from Toyota and the Nissan Leaf.  A local vintage bike restorer, Brian Annear bought along his stunning old bikes, restored to look brand new. Our local Arts Recycling Centre offered a ‘yarnbomb your bike’ activity which was very popular - many bikes rode home looking very colourful.

We had Daisy’s Bikes along with their tandems. Sports Manawatu set up a great cycling confidence course for children, and the PUni, the Palmerston North Unicycling Club, wowed us with their single-wheel skills and offered lessons. We also had lots great live music and organic vegan tofu burger and ice cream on sale from Wholegrain Organics. It was fantastic to gather so many local cycling enthusiasts together and to inspire people to get back on their bikes.

Right now, we are in the middle of organising our next event - EnviroFest! This will be a three week festival of environmental and sustainability events, from October 2-23. You can follow EnviroFest updates here Look forward to seeing you there!



Carbon footprint: a simple overview

A persons’ contribution to climate change can be measured and expressed with numbers. There are a lot of tools and a lot of data available on the internet. Although most of these figures include a lot of uncertainty, they can help find ways to reduce your carbon footprint by shifting from one activity to another. In this article, we want to help you understand the carbon footprint concept, so you can do whatever you decide to do with more knowledge.

The carbon footprint is a simple concept, it represents a measure of the full climate change impact of something, e.g. a country, an activity, a particular meal or a thing. But the name of the concept is rather confusing because carbon footprint usually is expressed in CO2e (where ‘e’ stands for an equivalent), which means it represents not only CO2 but all greenhouse gases (GHG). Just imagine how confusing it would be to compare bananas and apples if we took into account various greenhouse gases (and their quantities) that are emitted during their production. In CO2e, all greenhouse gases are converted into CO2 and it allows to compare various things easily. That is why, you should always pay attention to the carbon footprint notation when you are looking for information. Consider this: the amount of CO2 emitted per capita in New Zealand in 2012 was ~7 tons, it is almost as much as in the UK, in contrast, the amount of CO2e is almost twice as high as in the UK (see graphs on the right).

How did this happen? Due to the high level of agricultural production in New Zealand (most of it for export) our emissions profile is quite different from other developed countries. In New Zealand, methane and nitrous oxide (largely from agriculture) comprise over half of total national emissions (~55 percent), while the remaining emissions consist largely of CO2 (~43 percent; further 2% consists of synthetic GHG).

In order to control emission levels, New Zealand, like other developed countries, has set emissions reduction targets. New Zealand has a long-term target to cut emissions to be 50 per cent below the 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2050. It means that emissions have to be reduced from 81 million tons (2013 emission rate) to 30 million tons during next 35 years (in 1990 per capita GHG emission was 66.7 Mt CO2e). Given that around 65 percent of New Zealand’s emissions comes from transport and agriculture, let’s consider here two main ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

Movement. How you move around the city, country, or even around the world influences your carbon footprint hugely. Different means of transport emit a different amount of GHG, but that is not all that counts. Consider this: your cycle footprint depends on what you eat to restore energy lost due to exercise stress; your bus and car trip footprint depends on how many people share them with you; your electric car trip footprint depends on what source of energy is used to produce electricity.

The most efficient way of traveling is cycling. Assuming that we burn around 50 calories per mile, cycling a mile powered by bananas will cost you 65g CO2e and this figure will be even less if you are powered by apples from your garden. In contrast, if your energy comes from cheeseburgers, the emissions per mile are about the same as two people driving an efficient car.

Although electric cars seem like an attractive alternative to petrol cars, their carbon footprint is not straightforward: driving an electric car in New Zealand is not the same as driving it in Australia (see the map at the top). In countries where the proportion of renewable energy consumption is high, the carbon footprint of an electric car will be low. Consider for example Norway, the percentage of renewable energy consumption is ~ 60% and, as a result, a carbon footprint of electric cars is one of the lowest in the world – 74 g CO2e per km (or 118g CO2e per mile).

FYI: More than 850 Electric Vehicles (EV) registered in NZ;
142 public charging locations in NZ, one in Palmerston North;
7 different EV models available:
Nissan Leaf, Outlander SUV, Holden Volt, Toyota Prius,
Audi A3 e-tron, Tesla Model S and BMW i3;
1138 Tonnes of CO2 emissions saved this year.

Food is another big component of our carbon footprint. Food from overseas has a higher carbon footprint than locally grown because it includes emissions from transportation. However, meat (especially beef and lamb) and dairy products have the biggest carbon footprint, even though they are grown in New Zealand. Just compare 18 kg CO2e per kg of local beef with 0.069 kg CO2e per kilogram of local apples. Beef is climate unfriendly food: methane is produced by cows’

vital activities, nitrous oxide is released when fertilizer is applied to grass, CO2 is caused by tractors and other machinery. When choosing your meal it is also important to consider the ratio of g CO2e to kcal (see the graph on the right). For example the amount of energy obtained from rice and wheat is fairly similar, however, on average, the carbon footprint of rice is twice as high as that of wheat.

A precise estimate of our carbon footprint can be very complicated, but more important is that each of us can drop most of it. It does not mean that you need to immediately sell your car and move to a village to grow your own veggie garden. Knowing what constitutes your carbon footprint and how it is estimated might help you to develop a strategy that will be suitable for you. For example, if you cannot cycle to work, share your car with your colleagues – the more people, the more fun the trip, and the lower your footprint. If you are a meat lover and life without it seems miserable to you, switch from beef to chicken, as chickens carbon footprint is more than three times less than beef. These actions are clearly not a simple decision, but we need to be creative, to ensure a sustainable and at the same time enjoyable life. It is possible!
Please, share your experience and tips on reducing your carbon footprint on our Facebook page.


Climate Change Top Tips

The scale of the Climate Change problem can make you feel slightly helpless, so we’ve come up with our own tips to enable you to make a difference to your personal carbon footprint.

Here are top tips from Sustainability Trust:

Meat-free Monday

Sign up for “Meat-free Mondays” or become a ‘flexitarian’ – a flexible vegetarian – so you can still enjoy your mum’s chicken roast, while making a difference every other day of the week!

Get educated and energised

Learn about climate change. Bring in speakers to your school, workplace, church, community. Check out Sustainability Trust free online resources or pop into browse their library. Stay inspired – it ain’t over til it’s over!

Get active on your way to work

Walk or bike to work once a week. Or if that’s too far, try parking further away (save money on parking too!) and walk or bike for the last – Continue reading…

Sustainable Christmas

As Christmas ramps up around us, the Palmerston North City Environmental Trust (PNCET) have some excellent suggestions for staying environmentally sustainable throughout the festivities. With some simple tips it's easy to keep a low impact on the environment while still enjoying the festive season.

If you have kids then it's a great opportunity to get them involved in making cards, gifts and decorations. Online sites such as Pinterest make finding ideas and tutorials a breeze. When decorating with fairy lights head for the solar-powered options to save on electricity for years to come.

When it comes to presents, Christmas is a great opportunity to shop locally for both food and gifts and we have a fantastic range of local suppliers for both. Presents don't always need to be big and expensive and sometimes home-baked or handmade gifts can mean a lot more. If you don't have the time to hand-make goods, online stores such as have a great range of well-priced, Kiwi-made gifts which are often customisable and unique. For those who have everything there's always the 'give-a-goat' type gifts from the likes of Oxfam.

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