Local government is calling for an incoming government to act quickly on climate change to ensure New Zealand communities are well prepared for rising sea levels and greater storm frequency.
At a media briefing LGNZ President Dave Cull said one of the first priorities for discussion between local and central government will be climate change.
“There is no more time for inaction, we need whoever is in government after 23 September 2017 to set some firm goals and strategies for both mitigating and adapting to climate change,” Mr Cull says.
“The incredible storms seen in Texas and the Caribbean in recent weeks should be taken as a warning to us all – these kinds of events are forecast to increase in the coming years and we need to be prepared for them. Natural hazards and climate change impacts pose an unprecedented threat to our natural and built environment.”
Local government has made its position clear with the Local Government Leaders Declaration on Climate Change and local government position statement on climate change, and will use the full range of skills and capabilities it holds to better understand all the impacts of climate change.
While much of the responsibility for adaptation falls to local government councils can’t address the issues of sea level rise and the increasing frequency of storm events by themselves – national direction and possibly resourcing on many aspects is required with some urgency.
“Much of the necessary on-the-ground climate change work will need to happen locally, but central government action is also critical,” Mr Cull says.
Local government is looking for an incoming government to:
- Lead a national campaign to raise awareness of the future impacts climate change on New Zealand
- Include an explicit mandate under the Local Government Act to consider how decisions affect climate change outcomes
- Provide a clear statement on responsibilities for adaptation actions, including fiscal responsibility and legal liability
- Work with local government to develop a collaborative and joint response to climate change, including a pathway to a low carbon economy.
As part of a response package, a key item to be discussed with a new government will be the proposed Local Government Risk Agency, designed to introduce a consistent information base, innovative solutions to increase resilience and agreement on funding options.