New Zealand Announces Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

The first of many adaptation plans . . .

Yesterday, New Zealand’s climate minister released the nation’s first national adaptation plan to help the country mitigate the effects of a changing climate. Drawing from the country’s 2020 climate change risk assessment and public consultations, this first in a series of adaptation plans identifies priorities and actions the government will need to take over the next six years to achieve results. The plan outlines four priorities: providing information and guidance to help decision-makers, guiding decisions around climate-resilient infrastructure and development, supporting communities already facing natural hazard events to adapt or relocate when necessary, and embedding climate resilience and adaptation in all government strategies and policies.

Who will pay the bill?

While the plan has been well received in New Zealand and lauded by local experts as a vital step in tackling the long-term challenges caused by climate change, those same experts did criticize the plan for not providing a well-defined breakdown of associated costs or clearly identifying who will be responsible for covering them. They also argued the plan is too short-sighted and that the real tests will come with its long-term implementation and how successive governments will carry the torch into the future.

Climate change a threat across the Pacific . . .

New Zealand, an island country with the world’s ninth-longest coastline, faces similar threats and risks from climate change as many of its smaller neighbouring island nations across the Pacific, including rising sea levels making inhabited areas uninhabitable and the increasing frequency and ferocity of storms. While in New Zealand such threats are dangerous, for many Pacific countries, climate change threatens their very existence. Such a reality in part motivated the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific, a 30-year blueprint for addressing the Pacific’s most pressing challenges with a common purpose, a strategy launched at the Pacific Islands Forum last month. And earlier this week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced more than C$12 million to support climate change resilience in Samoa during her official visit to the country.