ICNZ supports climate change adaptation

Napier city, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Much of New Zealand's communities lie along the coastline of the country. Image: Napier City, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

The New Zealand Government introduced its Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill to parliament on 7 May, which will see climate change adaptation actions being implemented, and the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) has expressed its support for the new bill.

The bill places a legal obligation on the government to support adaptation initiatives, and ICNZ has stated that it is committed to working with the government on understanding and adapting to risk in order to reduce the cost of climate change for communities and New Zealand more broadly. The company reflected upon the increased frequency and severity of storms, as well as changes in flood risk from natural causes and the costs that these changes will incur.

ICNZ Chief Executive Tim Grafton added his own thoughts to the monumental development: “Mitigation is simply not enough on its own; even if all carbon emissions ceased today, we would still be dealing with the effects of a changing climate for years to come." Grafton expounded that, according to preliminary research from NIWA, there is near certainty that the sea will rise an additional 0.2 to 0.3 metres in the next 20 years, and there are 125,600 buildings and NZ$38 billion of replacement costs within 0-1 metre of sea level rise. "With these sea level rises come increasing risks from storms and coastal inundation, as well as the increased risks of ever higher water tables and sunny-day flooding," he said.

It is critical that adaptation actions are implemented sooner rather than later – moving properties away from coastal areas, and resolving not to build new properties in such areas in the first place, is but a small drop in the rising sea of changes that need to be considered.

"Failing to adapt will cost us greatly and the longer we delay, the more that cost will increase," concluded Grafton.