Monday, September 04, 2017

Climate change: Half a billion dollars a year

For the past six months, National has been refusing to release a secret report on how to adapt our coastlines for climate change. And now we know why: because it shows that the expected impacts are devastating:

A government report into the effects of climate change estimates $19 billion of property is at risk from increasing flooding and coastal erosion.

A 284-page draft report from the Ministry for the Environment has been released by the Green Party.

The report warns sea levels may rise up to 40 centimetres by 2050.

Green Party leader James Shaw said it painted a more accurate picture of the scale of climate change than previous reports and the government should have released it.

"You're looking at $19 billion worth of property, 2000 kilometres of roads, five airports, 50 kilometres of railway, 133,000 potentially affected."

And that's by 2050, in just 33 years time. Or, to put it another way: the expected cost of climate change on our infrastructure alone is already over half a billion dollars a year.

That's an enormous cost, and the sooner councils know about it, the sooner they can take steps to start minimising it by planning upgrades and changing zoning regulations. But when they do that, the value of existing assets will be destroyed: no-one wants to buy a house that the council says will be under water in a few decades (or which will be inaccessible because the roads to it will be under-water). And people will also rightly ask what the government has done to prevent those losses, and why it has dragged its feet on reducing emissions in order to protect the profits of a tiny clique of rich polluters. National clearly doesn't want to answer these questions. But they owe us answers - and action.