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Urgent action needed as New Zealand faces 'significant' risks from climate change - researcher

The groundwork is being laid to fight the “significant” climate change risks New Zealand faces, according to one researcher, but he says now it's time for action.

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But Professor James Renwick says “we still need to see action”. Source: Breakfast

The Government’s risk assessment released yesterday has warned of the threat climate change poses to New Zealand's environment, population, infrastructure and economy.

The Risk Assessment is based on a high emissions, business-as-usual future, resulting in a projected 67cm sea level rise and 3C temperature increase in New Zealand by 2090.

It will now be used to develop a national adaptation plan over the next two years. 

Victoria University climate researcher Professor James Renwick says though the climate change landscape has changed “dramatically” in the last five years, “we still need to see some action”.

Prof Renwick says he has been calling for action for over 20 years now, and that it’s been “pretty slow progress”.

“So far I'd have to say not enough’s being done,” he told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

“But talk about political will in New Zealand, the landscape has changed dramatically in the last five years.”

He says the Zero Carbon Act, the risk assessment released yesterday and the Climate Change Commission all show promise for the country’s future.

“The groundwork is being laid, we still need to see the action … at that level of Government there is a lot more serious discussion around what needs to be done.

“I’m hopeful over the next three-give years we really will see some action.”

He says in order to create change, New Zealand needs to ensure it avoids high fossil fuel consumption and is calling for further investment into public transport.

“We want to avoid anything that will really lock in using fossil fuels in the future.

“It would be great if we were equally investing in much upgraded public transport, boost up the rail network, all those kinds of things would go a long way to reducing emissions from the transport sector.”