National Climate Change Risk Assessment needs local focus

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) has welcomed the release of the first National Climate Change Risk Assessment, but say that unless it’s paired up with a framework that enables councils to act on the assessments, communities will be left vulnerable to the increasing amount of severe weather events that are exacerbated by climate change.

“Don’t get me wrong, it is helpful to have a national view of the effects of climate change.  But we know that the impacts of climate change are at a local level and are greatly varied.  Until we have an adaptation framework that enables councils to increase their response to these hyper-local threats, anxiety in our communities will remain,” says LGNZ President Dave Cull.

A recent review of the Resource Management system has supported LGNZ’s concerns, finding that, “There are no explicit RMA functions for local government in regard to climate change adaptation.”

“It’s pleasing to see the recent RMA review has caught up on our position, and raised the issues around this legislative hole, but our fear is that this policy is going to take years to develop, and as we all know the effects of severe weather events, such as storms, floods, droughts and the like, are rapidly increasing.”

“We’re calling on central government to take heed of our communities’ calls, and come to the table to develop some adaptation policy quickly, so that we can get to work, whether that’s defending, retreating, or any other number of responses they may wish to take.”