How New Zealand Adapts to Climate Change Needs Stronger Push

The Insurance Council of New Zealand says the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s recommendations on long-term planning for climate change fell short in not dealing with how New Zealand should adapt to climate change.

“The Commissioner’s report Stepping Stones to Paris and Beyond borrows extensively from the United Kingdom’s approach to addressing how to mitigate climate change.  This legislates greenhouse gas targets and requires that they be met through five-year carbon budgets set by the Government and on advice from an independent expert group” Insurance Council Chief Executive Tim Grafton said.

“What is surprising is that while the Commissioner is willing to push the boat out to recommend similar legislation to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, she pulls up short in making a recommendation to legislate such long-term planning for how New Zealand adapts to climate change” he said.

“It was not long ago that the Commissioner’s report on sea level rise concluded that no matter what was done about mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, sea level rise was inevitable.”

“This means no matter what New Zealand does about greenhouse gas emissions, it faces inevitable challenges in adapting to climate change and sea-level rise.  Adaptation means reducing and managing the risk of losses which will be essential to keep insurance available and affordable if losses become unsustainable.”

“Given this certainty, it is puzzling why Dr Wright did not also recommend that legislating, as the UK does, for five-yearly adaptation assessments by an independent expert group.  Instead, she has taken the weaker stance of recommending that officials who report to Ministers carry out the work and that the current Minister’s Adaptation Working group examines what the UK does.”

“This offers no long-term, bipartisan approach to the problem.   It leaves matters solely in the hands of the current Minister and her working group.”