'We must start adapting' - James Shaw announces climate change framework

A new framework to determine future climate change risks will identify national assets and taonga under threat. 

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The risk assessment aims to provide central and local government tools to adapt. Source: 1 NEWS

Climate Change Minister James Shaw said today the framework would inform climate change adaption and mitigation, "so Aotearoa is resilient and prepared". 

It aims to improve decision making "in the presence of inevitable, and in some cases, substantial and irreducible uncertainty", the framework states. 

It would mainly look at national climate change risks, but "also aims to cover significant regional risks". 

The framework acknowledged the Māori economy to be more reliant on natural resources and more sensitive to climate change and the high number of Māori coastal communities and sites of significance.

The assessment of the risks is to be released mid-2020. It is set to also identify existing information and evidence gaps.

"We are already experiencing the effects of a changing climate such as coastal inundation and increasingly frequent and severe droughts, floods, fires and storms," Mr Shaw said. "This framework is an acknowledgment that we must start adapting."

Professor Dave Frame of the NZ Climate Change Research Institute said climate change presented a considerable challenge for New Zealand, with export industries being impacted. 

"By developing a framework that helps us develop a better understanding of the location, magnitude, and likely evolution of those challenges I think the Government have taken a significant step towards helping us anticipate and plan for those challenges," he told Science Media Centre. 

"For too long we have left adaptation to local scales when there has been a clear need for more leadership from central Government."

Deep South National Science Challenge's Belinda Storey said New Zealand had lagged almost a decade behind other countries in having a national risk assessment for climate change. 

"Given our need for the work, I understand the urgency, but am concerned by the short timeframe to conduct the risk assessment."