Dunedin flooding highlights costs of Govt’s inaction on climate

Local governments throughout New Zealand will have to pick up the ongoing cost of National’s inaction on climate change, the Green Party said today.

“The flooding in Dunedin highlights that the National Government needs to stop being the problem and start being part of the solution on climate change,” Green Party local government spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

“Since National came to power in 2008, New Zealand’s net emissions have increased by 13 percent; the scientific consensus is that increasing emissions will cause more extreme weather events.”

IPCC editor Professor Blair Fitzharris has said that, as global warming continues, Dunedin is likely to face more extreme rainfall events like those seen yesterday. Low lying densely populated areas, coastal communities, and major transport infrastructure including Dunedin airport will be particularly at risk from storm damage.

“The best way National can protect the people of Dunedin and other communities from the future effects of climate change is by taking a strong emissions reduction target to Paris later this year and acting as a global leader encouraging other countries to implement ambitious targets as well,” said Ms Sage.

“An emissions reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 is the barest minimum needed to avoid runaway climate change.

“Dunedin City Council has asked the Government to act to reduce emissions now rather than pay for adapting to the greater impacts of climate change later.

“For example, Dunedin City Council estimates that engineering options to protect private property and infrastructure in high risk areas against a 0.3 metre rise in sea level will cost $10 million, while protection against a 1.6 metre rise in sea level will cost $150 million.

“Adaptation is the most expensive option. The Government should work to avoid climate change first and foremost.

“By not taking leadership on climate change and actually allowing New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions to increase, the National Government is leaving New Zealanders to pick up the costs of its inaction.

“Last month it was Wellington. Yesterday it was Dunedin. What region will suffer next from a lack of strong, cross-party leadership on the climate?”

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