24 May 2018

Govt needs to do more on climate change - report

2:52 pm on 24 May 2018

The New Zealand government needs to do more on climate change, a new report says.

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Photo: 123r

The report from the Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group was released this morning.

It follows the group's stocktake report, which was released in December after being withheld by the previous government. It said there was no plan to deal with rising sea levels, and extreme weather events.

Today's report said the government needed to identify the risks posed by climate change, and create a national plan to address them.

It suggested the Local Government Act 2002 be changed to specify climate change adaptation as a function of local government - and therefore give it a clearer mandate.

There needed to be strong leadership, and immediate action. The government should make it clear to the public that climate change was a priority, and use a Zero Carbon Bill in order for clear and consistent legislation.

Funding for such an initiative needed to be figured out, the report said.

The report writers expected a timely response, and a timetable for implementing the recommendations in the report, co-chair Judy Lawrence said in the report.

The report recommended a number of things Local Government New Zealand had been calling for for a long time, its president and Dunedin mayor Dave Cull said.

"National risk assessment, national adaptation plan, engagement with communities discussions around adaptation funding, and, just as importantly, a review of existing policy and legislative framework."

Local and central government coming together to tackle climate change was long overdue, Mr Cull said.

Councils encountered the effects of climate change first, and it had been hard to deal with it, especially as only a few years ago there were questions around whether climate change was actually happening.

"It's been difficult in the absence of centrally government-mandated consensus on what's happening and how we're going to have to deal with it together."

Councils would not be able to afford to take on climate change adaptation work without more money, he said.

The government would follow the group's suggestion to create an expert group to figure out who should pay, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said.

"We certainly understand the scale of the challenge local government is exposed to and the fact that they basically are not resourced to be able to deal with it at the moment.

"We now need to come to the party with 'what do we do about that?', and the report points us to that."