Impossible to deny climate change - NASA

8:00 pm on 21 January 2016

It's impossible to deny climate change following the record breaking temperatures last year, a scientist from the American space agency NASA says.

Global warming

Photo: AFP

Compton Tucker told RNZ News there was every reason to believe that 2016 would break last year's record.

"We're starting to see the death of climate change denial, that is the evidence accumulated from multiple sources.

"The evidence is overwhelming and there are people who are wilfully ignorant about climate change and they invoke a wide variety of mechanisms which are pretty silly."

New Zealand climate scientist James Renwick said countries needed to start getting on top of greenhouse gas emissions.

He said the global economy was built on fossil fuels and that couldn't be changed overnight.

"There are very rapid changed changes in renewable technologies, electric vehicles and so on and that's great, but to really change the direction of the global economy in terms of how energy's produced is a big ask and it will take time. The thing is we really need to start."

Dr Renwick said there had been talk about this problem for 25 years and nothing had happened - but he said wasn't too late to turn things around.

He said New Zealand's emissions profile was unusual, with almost half coming from the agricultural sector.

However, the biggest growth areas for emissions came from the transport and energy sectors.

"We could make big moves there, if it was possible for the government to incentivise the introduction of electric vehicles, to invest in public transport rather than building roads, just to move the economy, putting a price on carbon that would really help market mechanisms to move things in the right direction."

Dr Renwick said there were a lot of things that could be done at a government policy level that weren't happening.

Erosion caused by rising sea levels due to global warming.

Erosion caused by rising sea levels due to global warming. Photo: 123rf

New Zealand needs to act responsibly to cut emissions - Greenpeace

There is an urgent need for this country to behave responsibly and cut emissions particularly to help our Pacific neighbours, Greenpeace New Zealand says.

Executive director Russel Norman said one of the key impacts of climate change was more droughts, more floods and rising sea levels.

"As a nation with a very long coast line New Zealand is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, as of course all our Pacific neighbours are who surely we have a responsibility to act in a way that helps them, rather than makes it harder for them."