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Incoming councils must prioritise climate resilience

22 Sep 2022

“Incoming mayors, councillors and community board members must prioritise investing in community-centred climate resilience,” says Insurance Council of New ZealandTe Kāhui Inihua o Aotearoa (ICNZ) Chief Executive Tim Grafton.

Local government is at the forefront of responding to climate impacts that already cost communities many hundreds of millions of dollars each year.  Beyond the financial loss, is the impact on community health and wellbeing, risks to life and safety, loss of amenity value and environmental and cultural loss.

No matter how well current coastal, flood or landslip measures stand up to today’s climate-driven extreme weather events, we know to expect such events to get more frequent and their impacts and costs more severe. 

“Investing in measures to reduce climate risks will have widespread benefits for communities and will help support the affordability of insurance the length and breadth of the motu,” says Tim. “Incoming councils must understand the risks facing their communities and to put in place proportionate and timely measures to manage them.” 

Early this year, the publication of the NZ SeaRise tool highlighted those parts of the country where immediate investment is required to ensure work is completed before relative sea level rise presents an intolerable risk to communities. It also showed other communities must act but have more time to do so.

However, for every home at direct risk as a consequence of relative sea level rise, it is estimated that around ten are at risk of flooding following extreme rainfall events. For such areas, the need for action is often even more urgent.

We are also now seeing the consequences of repeat extreme rain events, sometimes compounded by our background seismic activity, on the incidence of slips and related damage and disruption. We are already seeing some communities being cut off for days at a time several times a year and questions raised over the long-term viability of some roads.

“Our communities face multiple climate related risks. All incoming councils have must act to address these if they are to maintain the viability of their communities over the medium to long terms,” said Tim. “I hope that both electors and those they elect approach climate change as if the future of their communities depends upon it being taken seriously; because it does.”

ENDS – KA MUTU
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