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Monday, 10 June 2019 10:47

Responding to a changing climate

Written by  Philip Gregan, CEO of NZ Winegrowers
Philip Gregan, CEO of NZ Winegrowers. Philip Gregan, CEO of NZ Winegrowers.

Each day news services are filled with latest research and commentary around the manifestations of climate change, whether it is, for example, record temperatures in the Arctic or the loss of ice from glaciers around the globe.

A changing climate is now the reality that we all must face. Weather has always been wildly variable, but climate change is something much more fundamental that is happening in our environment.

In recent vintages there has been considerable commentary from producers about the variable weather they have experienced. Whether or not these changes are a manifestation of climate change may be debated by some, but each issue of Vinefacts is surely testimony to the changes growers and wineries are confronting.

The Government has now laid out a plan for its response to climate change – a Zero Carbon Act and a Climate Change Commission. There are details still to come but the Act will set down targets for greenhouse gas emissions (net zero emissions for greenhouse gases other than methane by 2050) and a framework for making those targets a reality. On the back of the new legislation there will likely need to be new regulatory interventions if the targets are to be achieved.

From an industry perspective a decade ago NZ Winegrowers funded work on the possible impact of climate change on New Zealand’s winegrowing regions. The pace of this work has picked up rapidly in the past 18 months with climate change becoming a priority area for the Bragato Research Institute. The first results were presented at the Bragato Conference last year. 

Climate change will again be a focus of Bragato this year with a major session dedicated to the subject, featuring Greg Jones a research climatologist from Oregon one of the key note speakers. The upcoming Grape Days also feature information on this topic.

So, the government is responding to climate change. NZ Winegrowers is doing its bit by providing the best information that we can to inform decision making by growers and wineries. 

Ultimately what our industry can do to help will come down to decisions by individual growers and wineries. So, what can you do to help? Your planet needs you.