The Insurance Council is this afternoon welcoming the opening of public consultation on the Zero Carbon Act. “Climate change poses a number of risks long-recognised by insurers,” said ICNZ Chief Executive, Tim Grafton. “We welcome the next step in implementing legislation to address it and look forward to working with Minister Shaw on this important issue.” “We’re particularly pleased to see the discussion document focus on adaptation and risk reduction with a view to the long term,” said Grafton. “No matter what we do now to mitigate climate change, we will continue to suffer the effects of it. Unless we take steps to adapt to these and reduce our risks, the costs of climate change will continue to rise. The longer we wait, the more it will cost and ultimately, failing to adapt to climate change will have big social and economic costs to New Zealand.” Last year was the most expensive year on record for extreme weather events, costing private insurers nearly $243 million. In that year, we saw the sorts of extremes of weather that climate change can cause with both the Edgecumbe floods and the Port Hills fires occurring within two months of each other. “Already this year, severe weather has cost more than $173 million and that’s without the final figures for cyclones Fehi or Gita or provisional figures for the Rotorua and Hawke’s Bay floodings,” said Grafton. “These storms are evidence of the very real impacts of climate change and of the importance of a long-term commitment to identify, monitor and address climate change risks.” “The discussion document is right to identify the importance of undertaking a national climate change risk assessment so that planning and actions can address those risks in in totality. Critical in this process is quantifying those risks and prioritising initiatives that have a net benefit to the country.” “This is an opportunity to form a national strategy that could standardise the approaches of both central and local government to tackling both climate change adaptation and mitigation. The sort of certainty in approach this could provide would help both insurers and the public more accurately measure and understand risk, particularly regarding properties.” ICNZ will be consulting with its members and submitting on the Zero Carbon Act. We will also be working to raise public awareness of climate change and the issues it presents, particularly regarding risk management and insurance, throughout the consultation period.