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  • Martin Bates

Adapting to Climate Change in New Zealand

The Climate Change Adaption Technical Working Group, formed in November 2016 to advise the Government on options for tackling climate change, has, this week, released its final report, "Adapting to Climate Change in New Zealand", in which it gives options for central Government consideration.

The report states that "New Zealand will experience increased frequency and intensity of extreme events such as higher temperatures, flooding, droughts and wildfires, and slowly emerging changes such as ongoing sea-level rise, warmer and more acidic oceans, and new pests threatening our natural environments."

If this sounds disheartening, on a positive note, the report added that "Opportunities will also arise for new and innovative ways to adapt. We need to act now to address the ongoing changes to our climate."

Peter Beavan, chair of the joint Hawke's Bay councils Coastal Hazards Committee, has welcomed the release of the report saying that it at last demonstrated a commitment on the part of central Government to take a lead role on this critical issue.

"As the report states, many local authorities such as Hawke's Bay have already taken a proactive stance and begun work, such as the Coastal Hazards study commissioned by three of our local bodies here in response to sea-level rise. However, the report is far more wide-reaching than just coastal hazards in considering the impact of global warming," Beavan said.

"There will be impacts on biosecurity, infrastructure, insurance availability, frequency and severity of floods, to name just a few."

He said every local authority should have the effects of global warming front and centre of its thinking.

"It's so obvious we can't do this by ourselves. It needs the active support and co-operation of both central Government and the wider community," he concludes.

The thinking and actions in Hawke’s Bay may fall into two areas. As the report suggests, adaptation - how we adjust to climate change using structures like higher stop banks, and mitigation - how we can actively work to minimise global warming through afforestation, electric vehicle uptake, alternative energy use, etc. Much more detailed work on both of these areas is necessary.

WOW too welcomes the release of the report, and is encouraged by its call for a national adaption plan and funding, and believes that this will give renewed confidence and focus to local authorities who are too often deterred by the magnitude of the challenges faced in this regard.

WOW also looks forward to continuing ongoing collaboration with all local stakeholders involved in The Clifton to Tangoio Coastal Hazards Strategy 2120, a combined project involving the Regional Council, Napier and Hastings Councils, and Tāngata Whenua, to identify and implement workable pathways to address the specific challenges faced in Hawke's Bay, and deliver positive outcomes for our communities.

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