A report released this morning by the Deep South National Science Challenge supports LGNZ’s call for a national framework to deal with sea-level rise, saying that New Zealand’s youngest and most vulnerable are at risk of shouldering the burden if we don’t act now.
“Preliminary findings from our upcoming sea-level rise report shows that billions of dollars of local government roading, water and public transport infrastructure is at risk from as little as half a metre of sea-level rise. That’s not including private buildings and houses, including potentially billions of dollars in residential real estate,” says LGNZ President Dave Cull.
“Areas like South Dunedin illustrate just how difficult it is to adapt to climate change without hitting lower socio-economic families in the pocket, so we need a national plan that doesn’t leave anyone behind.”
“Local government stands alongside our communities on the front line in the fight against climate change, but we can’t do it alone – we need central government to set stronger, national rules around risk and liability to property owners in the path of sea-level rise.”
Research from NIWA reveals that sea level rise in New Zealand has increased from 1.7mm a year over the past century, to 4.4mm a year since 1993, which is higher than the global average. In combination with more severe weather events, storm surges and king tides, sea-level rise presents a huge problem for coastal businesses and residents.
“We need to treat sea-level rise the way we do earthquakes, and that requires a national strategy that gives councils a stronger platform on which to make decisions about building in high-risk areas.”
“Right now, councils get a lot of kickback when including sea-level rise information on LIM reports, but are at risk of liability when consenting for building in at risk areas, even when developers insist on building and acknowledge the risks. More clarity is needed in these areas.”
LGNZ will release the findings of a national sea-level rise survey early in the new year, which will reveal the total amount of local government infrastructure at risk from sea level rise.
“We’re finalising a report that will reveal the value of roading, water and public transport infrastructure at risk from sea-level rise. If we don’t want to saddle our future generations with this burden, we need to act now.”