The question on everyone’s lips this weekend is whether this is bad weather or climate change? Of course we have always had bad weather but the evidence is clear; climate change is making bad weather events more frequent, and it is only going to get worse.
These disasters underline the importance of being fossil fuel free by 2050. This would keep the world under 2 degrees of warming – the level which scientists consider ‘dangerous’. To achieve this goal without disrupting our economy New Zealand needs to act on this now, and The Opportunities Party has a plan to do so.
Regardless of how much we reduce emissions, even 2 degrees of warming will mean some sea level rise and more adverse weather events like those we are experiencing at the moment. But at the moment we aren’t even preparing for that inevitable outcome.
The most recent example is the terrible devastation caused in Edgecumbe by the failure of the stopbank there. Kudos goes to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council for holding an independent review of that incident. But is it really fair to leave this issue up to local areas to resolve? Some parts of the country face huge upheaval with sea level rise and adverse weather events. Edgecumbe is the latest example, but many other places such as South Dunedin face huge problems with rising groundwater and sea levels.
Local communities need to start talking about how to prepare for climate change. They need to discuss future proofing infrastructure, and in some cases they will need to plan for managed retreat. It isn’t fair to leave them to face these issues alone, the government also needs to be at the table. This was recommended by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright in her report on seal level rise and The Opportunities Party included this in our Climate Action policy.
When these disasters ramp up and devastate towns the government will inevitably step in. Why put the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff? The Government should accept that climate change poses a liability for the country, and they need to be involved in talking about how to plan for it.
Incredibly, this is exactly what the insurance industry is calling for. If you haven’t seen it, watch this excellent Q&A interview with Mark Wilson from Aviva, one of the world’s biggest insurance companies. Big insurers have accepted the facts of climate change and the risks it poses. They don’t want to walk away from the communities they serve, and they see the need to talk and plan ahead.
Sadly the current Government still has its head in the sand. That means we can only expect to see more events like Edgecumbe in the days and years ahead.
Stay safe in Cyclone Cook folks.