Insight: The costs of inaction are already here – Climate Change Commission

Thought piece by the Climate Change Commission

When there’s so much uncertainty, and pressure to make rapid changes, there can be a temptation to try to slow the pace of change.

Living with uncertainty is our reality. Delaying action in the expectation that uncertainty will be reduced or resolved comes at a cost. Uncertainty may not reduce and the cost of delayed action may rise.

Covid-19 and now the outbreak of war in Europe is massively impacting supply chains, costs and revenues. There are added pressures on households and governments from rising inflation and in particular rising fuel prices, and our Government has already taken a financial hit to respond to the rise in the price of oil, reducing its tax take on petrol and halving public transport charges.

But there have always been (and will continue to be) uncertainties about our future. It is my view that we will never have a greater opportunity to advance the transition to a thriving, climate resilient and low-emissions Aotearoa than right now. The more we keep kicking climate change action down the road, the tougher it gets both to live in the past and to prosper in the future.

The cost associated with delayed action on climate change is rising rapidly. The costs and options to reduce emissions may be declining, but the options and costs of adapting to our changing climate are escalating. Our changing climate is already changing everything.

The latest IPCC report on mitigating climate change, released today, delivers an ultimatum on climate action – it is now or never.

Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. If global warming reaches 1.5°C, this will unavoidably increase the risks of irreversible damage to ecosystems and communities.

The report says limiting warming to around 1.5°C will require global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 and be reduced by 43 percent by 2030. At the same time, methane would also need to be reduced by about a third. Even if we do this, it is almost inevitable that we will temporarily exceed this temperature threshold but could return to below it by the end of the century.

Read the full insight