Communicating environmental sustainability within New Zealand news media and Wellington educational institutions A 60-credit Journalism Project presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Journalism at Massey University
As a country, New Zealand produces only about 0.17 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, per person, New Zealand is the fourth-highest emissions contributor globally (Sims, 2015). With the growing need to change lifestyle habits in order to lower emissions and reduce future costs involved with adapting to climate change impacts, it seems essential the public be well-informed and resourced in order to face the future. In order to meet the New Zealand Government’s environmentally-driven goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below the 2005 levels by 2030, the overall population needs to practise environmentally sustainable lifestyles around the country.
This research aimed to explore how environmental sustainability is communicated by key influencers in New Zealand, educational institutions and news media. This is illustrated through a long-form journalism article on how educational institutions in Wellington are helping young people develop environmentally sustainable life-practices crucial to their future resilience and survival. This study is informed by interviews to help understand how a select number of educational institutions of various levels integrate environmental sustainability in their classroom; how this topic is communicated to students; and how New Zealand government agencies and local authorities support such efforts in educational institutions. Through interviews with New Zealand environment reporters and a critical analysis of environment reporting, this research discusses the power the media has in terms of climate change action and how journalists in New Zealand have coped with the challenge of covering environment in the context of a restructuring news industry. Without a strong presence of information-sharing through the education system and news media, New Zealand may not be ready to face the impacts of climate change.