Climate change report outlines options

James Shaw
James Shaw

Seawalls could help protect New Zealand from coastal hazards caused by climate change, but so could retreating from the coast, a Government report says.

Environment Minister James Shaw released two climate reports in Auckland yesterday, saying they provided a clear picture of the scale and urgency of climate change.

One identifies four options for adapting coastal areas to cope with rising sea levels and other side-effects of climate change: moving people away from the coast; not putting people and buildings in harm's way; taking action in anticipation of flooding; and using buffers such as sand dunes or seawalls to protect homes and people.

In reality, it would probably be a combination of measures that best protected New Zealanders, the report said.

The document, produced by a panel of central and local government experts and those from the finance, insurance, science and communities sector for the Ministry for the Environment, is designed to give local government a plan to manage increasing coastal risks.

Dave Cull
Dave Cull

Local Government New Zealand president and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said there had to be a joint plan of attack to address the issue.

He has called for a nationwide conversation on the effects of sea level rises on communities, buildings, infrastructure and land.

"Many councils have started adaptation work and want to do more but need central leadership and support, community buy-in and resourcing,'' he said.

"Under all scenarios, sea levels will continue to rise during the 21st century and beyond and the rate of sea-level rise will very likely be faster than in the past few decades,'' the report says.

Work has already begun on recommendations on how New Zealand can adapt to the effects of climate change.

That report was due to be released in March, Mr Shaw said. - NZN


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