Extreme flooding shows need for climate investment

Extreme flooding in Auckland over the weekend shows the urgent need for central government-led investment into aging infrastructure to prepare for more frequent and extreme weather events, the Green Party said today.

It has been forecast that the capacity of Auckland's storm water systems may be exceeded more frequently in future because of climate change-induced heavy rainfall events, according to the Ministry for the Environment.

“There is a real risk flooding on this scale will happen more frequently if the Government doesn’t start supporting cities to upgrade storm water infrastructure now,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“Upgrading a storm water pipe is never going to be as sexy as opening a new highway, but we’ve seen the consequences of not doing it – people’s homes and businesses are wrecked and sections of the city are cut off.

“Auckland, like most of our cities, has incredibly old storm water systems that urgently need upgrading. Council budgets are already stretched so either Government funding or a new funding mechanism is needed to help them do this.

“We’ve already seen how poorly prepared much of the country is for climate change, with extreme flooding in Whanganui, Dunedin, and Lower Hutt in the last couple years causing millions of dollars of damage and disruption to people’s lives.

“It’s not just about hard infrastructure. We can also do a lot to stop flooding by creating more urban wetlands and supporting household water storage.

“The Insurance Council and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment have already called on the Government to start budgeting for the cost of responding to climate change, something Bill English has dismissed,” said Mr Shaw.

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