Drew Bingham and Bonnie Farrant are part of a team that produced Our atmosphere and climate 2020. They discuss how the team maintains its independence and what role evidence plays in what they’ve reported.
- Why is it important for all New Zealanders (the general public and policy makers) to work from a common understanding of the country’s climate?
- Why is it important that the report isn’t influenced by anything other than the science?
The report is produced by both MfE and Stats New Zealand. We are a joint programme called the Environmental Reporting Programme.
The report is a health check on the state of the climate and atmosphere in New Zealand. The overall story is that our activities create emissions, which are changing the climate, which is affecting our wellbeing.
The report’s really aimed at everyone in New Zealand. We want all the New Zealanders to be able to understand what is going on with our climate, and the government, people who make policy or work in the climate space have an evidence base that they can draw upon so that we’re all working from a common understanding.
The heart of the report is the data that we collect on the state of the climate. So it’s all the weather data that’s collected in towns across the country, the temperature and rainfall. It’s the greenhouse gases that are measured over at Baring Head, it’s the ultraviolet radiation that’s measured. And these data are really important because it helps us understand how climate is changing, and so if we’re going to adapt to climate change or take action to mitigate it, we need to understand how it’s affecting New Zealand.
The way that we maintain independence in the reports is we have an outside panel of experts, the senior science and mātauranga team. We rely on their independent scientific assessment of the report to make sure that what we’re saying is backed up by the science and the evidence.
We’re independent of the government of the day, so the government won’t see this report until the day before it’s published.
And also, we’re independent of the rest of the ministries.
Bonnie Farrant, Stats NZ
Drew Bingham, Ministry for the Environment
Still image of the Beehive, Luke Pilkinton-Ching, University of Otago Wellington, released under CC BY-NC 3.0
This resource has been produced with the support of the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ. (c) Crown Copyright.