Who pays and how much to move homes and potentially entire communities due to extreme weather events associated with climate change is part of a major consultation process launched today.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw released the draft National Adaptation Plan this morning, which will determine how best the country will respond to and fund the costs associated with increased extreme weather events, as well as the thorny concept of “managed retirement” where areas become habitable.
The plan comes ahead of next month’s highly anticipated Emissions Reduction Plan, which will outline how New Zealand will meet the 2050 target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions and help keep global warming below 1.5. °C.
Shaw said recent extreme weather events, particularly in Tairāwhiti/Gisborne, have demonstrated the case for urgent action on climate change.
“In the last few months alone, we have seen massive floods, like those in Tairawhiti; storms, such as those recently experienced in Westport; fires in the Waituna Wetlands in Southland; and droughts across the country. »
Climate effects would affect lives, incomes, homes, businesses and infrastructure, he said.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw. Photo/Mark Mitchell
The draft National Adaptation Plan outlines the actions the government will take over the next six years to address the priority climate-related risks identified in the 2020 National Climate Change Risk Assessment.
“The central government does not bear all the costs,” Shaw said.
“The consultation asks how best to share risks and costs between building and asset owners, insurers, banks and local authorities.
“He also asks for advice on managed pension and flood insurance, to ensure a joint approach to climate change adaptation.”
The plan aims to address issues raised during the managed retreat process that occurred in the town of Matatā in the Bay of Plenty, which took 16 years, cost around $17 million and “ years of stress and uncertainty for the community”.
The plan aims to address these complex legal and technical issues, as well as fund adaptation through a new Climate Adaptation Act, which is expected to be in place by the end of 2023.
Shaw said the best thing to do is to prevent these extreme weather events from getting worse by reducing pollution in the first place.
“Next month’s emissions reduction plan will outline how we plan to do this.
“However, we know the climate is already changing and there will be effects that we cannot avoid.”
Consultation on the draft plan begins tomorrow and ends June 3.
The latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released this month, found that without immediate and deep reductions in emissions in every sector, the world is on the right track. way to quickly cross the 1.5°C threshold.
By 2100, the proportion of the world’s population exposed to fatal heat stress is also expected to rise from 30% today to somewhere between 48 and 76%.
Up to three billion people could experience chronic water scarcity from droughts if warming reaches 2°C – and up to four billion under 4°C global temperature rise – with severe implications for food production and ecosystems.
New Zealand could expect a lot more of what climate change has already brought us: more hot days, fewer cold days, melting glaciers, rising snow, heavier downpours and oceans that gradually acidify.
Northern regions would experience more droughts and extreme fire hazards, he found, while on our southeastern coasts, effects such as ocean warming and marine heat waves could kill people. kelp forests.
A government-led risk assessment in 2020 found that 675,500 Kiwis lived in areas already prone to flooding, and another 72,065 lived in the line of sight where some of the most dramatic effects of rising sea levels sea could occur.
Buildings were also at extreme risk – nearly 50,000 of them were currently at risk from coastal flooding, and under the highest range of warming scenarios that figure could rise to nearly 120,000 this century. .
According to draft adaptation planOver the past 10 years, climate change-related flooding has cost the New Zealand economy at least $120 million in privately insured damage.
Economic losses from droughts cost an additional $720 million.
According to the UN, global temperature would only stabilize when carbon dioxide emissions reached net zero.
For 1.5°C, this meant reaching net zero carbon dioxide emissions globally by the early 2050s; for 2C – the bottom line of the historic Paris Agreement that New Zealand and around 200 nations signed – it was in the early 2070s.
This assessment showed that limiting warming to around 2°C still required global greenhouse gas emissions to peak by 2025 at the latest – and to be cut by a quarter by 2030.
In New Zealand alone, emissions have increased by more than a quarter in the past three decades, with much of that increase coming from methane released by dairy cows and CO2 from road transport.
Last year, New Zealand’s Independent Commission on Climate Change found that the country’s current climate policies did not reflect what was needed to stay below 1.5°C.
In 2021, New Zealand was on track to exceed its 2050 net long-lived gas target of around 6.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent – and we couldn’t keep going. get out of a difficult action.
The commission recommended a comprehensive transformation in virtually every sector of the economy – from the cars we drive and import, and the cows and sheep we raise, to the energy we produce and consume, the forests we we plant and the houses we build.
Moreover, it foresaw a drastic transition that, while forever changing the face of our country, would largely occur within the next 15 years.
Cabinet ministers have since assessed how those recommendations would fit into the government’s emissions reduction plan, which would lock in three five-year carbon budgets and was due to be published next month, after a long delay.
Another UN report released in March said that in addition to cutting emissions as hard and fast as possible, nations must put equity and nature at the heart of adaptation efforts, especially as the world was urbanizing.
Adaptation progress has been slowest among low-income populations, but particularly in urban areas characterized by poorly planned growth and a lack of basic services.
The draft adaptation plan notes that Maori like tangata whenua have been identified as particularly susceptible to climate impacts on the natural environment for social, economic, cultural and spiritual reasons.
Many Maori depend on primary industries for their livelihood. In some places, climate change may alter the patterns of use of mahinga kai (food collection sites) or rongoā (medicinal plant) crops, and coastal impacts could disrupt access to marae or wāhi tapu (sacred sites ).
The plan also notes that the ability to move around is also likely to be more difficult for lower income groups, people with reduced mobility and people with disabilities.