Government’s climate denial puts peoples’ livelihoods and assets at risk

Finance Minister Bill English’s description of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report on sea level rise as mere “speculation” denies the evidence and puts the livelihoods and assets of people living in places like South Dunedin or Napier at serious risk.

Mr English dismissed the report’s primary finding that sea level rise is now certain, as mere “speculation”, and rejected her recommendation that he should plan for financial support for people who might see their homes and assets threatened by rising sea levels.

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said that, “Bill English’s dismissal of sea level rise, and the challenges faced by home owners, is in stark contrast to Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull who said on TV3 this morning that ‘…we see the water coming up. The evidence is there. We cannot ignore it’.”

“Mr English cannot simply deny that sea levels are rising and hope that the risk to people’s homes in South Dunedin and other low-lying places around the country will go away,” said Mr Shaw.

“We need to work with those communities and support them to develop plans that respond to the risk that their homes will, over time, become uninsurable and lose their value. The National Government is sticking its head in the sand and saying to those communities that they’re on their own.                        

“National’s climate denial risks becoming an international embarrassment. Just a few months ago the United States President Barack Obama declared that ‘climate change, especially rising seas, is a threat to our homeland security—our economy, infrastructure, and the safety and health of the American people’.

“Mr English’s refusal to even consider this recommendation shows an extraordinary disregard for the thousands of New Zealander living in low lying areas, as well as the independent work of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment”, said Mr Shaw.

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