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National: Climate Minister James Shaw announces New Zealand's first six-year climate adaptation plan

12:30 pm on 3 August 2022

By Jessica Hopkins 

The government has released its climate adaptation plan, New Zealand's first long-term strategy to manage the impacts of climate change in Aotearoa. 

The plan covers an initial six-year period until 2028. 

Speaking from the waterfront of Owhiro Bay in Pōneke, which will likely suffer from rising sea levels in the near future, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said the adaptation plan would prepare communities for severe weather events that are now happening at a pace and intensity we have never experienced before.

"When they happen, everything from the roads we rely on, to our drains and water supplies, to getting the kids to school can be severely disrupted.”

The plan sets out the government's proposal for “managed retreat," where communities would be forced to relocate from areas where climate change has become "intolerable". 

The government is expected to introduce the Climate Adaptation Bill by the end of 2023, to address the legal, technical, and financial issues of managed retreat.

Long-awaited reform to the resource management act will also influence how managed retreat can be implemented. 

The plan also calls for a wide-ranging approach to climate adaptation as opposed to leaving all responsibility with the government.

“Central government, local government, iwi, hapū, whānau, the private sector, the research and scientific community, and communities and individuals all have different but complementary roles in our risk management system,” the report reads.

Shaw acknowledged the “incredibly frustrating” pace at which the government has acted on climate change but said that having a new legislative plan in place will see momentum build.

“I do share people’s frustration that it has taken us a very long time to get started as a country.”

Public interest journalism funded through NZ on Air.