Friday, 15 December 2017

Climate change report held back until after elections

Even this extremely conservative report was suppressed by the previous Tory government

National held back advice on 1.9m sea rise until after election while new developments built

By Martyn Bradbury

the Daily Blog,

13 December, 2017

The National Government knew what the report said but held it going out before the election because it would demand they had an actual plan for climate change rather than the meaningless lip service they currently provide.

Let’s get this straight, the National Government held back a report showing no council should build near the sea because of a predicted 1.9m rise in sea levels and a new development got green lighted while they hid this report???

Drowning dreams: Billions at stake as Govt mulls sea level rules

Today, leading scientists recommend considering between double and quadruple that amount when planning new developments. The most up-to-date advice is codified in a new guide written by scientists and policy experts for the Ministry for the Environment.

That guide has no official status, but many councils know what it says, and the public learned of its contents when it was leaked earlier this year by the Green Party.

Based on the latest science, the guide says people should be planning for 1m of sea level rise for existing neighbourhoods, and 1.9m for “green-fields” developments or redevelopments that intensify land use in already built-up areas. The goal is to avoid adding lots of new housing to areas that might one day be flooded.

Yet, in the Coromandel alone, hundreds of new, permanent land titles have been created on low-lying coast in the past two years, after modelling at most 1m of sea level rise.

In 2015, Thames-Coromandel District Council approved a subdivision of 167 coastal sections after rejecting advice from flood experts at Waikato Regional Council to consider 2m higher seas. The district council factored in 1m, instead, noting in emails to the regional council that any updated government guidance wasn’t likely to arrive in time.

Two years later, the council allowed 72 new titles to be created along canals flowing from a harbour, again after modelling for a maximum of 1m higher seas.

These developments weren’t breaking any rules, or even going against best practice guidance, because the advice to factor in 1.9m higher seas was held back by the previous government until after the election.

The National Government knew what the report said but held it going out before the election because it would demand they had an actual plan for climate change rather than the meaningless lip service they currently provide.

That the National Government were prepared to damage so many peoples properties for such political gain is another ugly truth of the last 9 years under National.

Climate change needs planning now, councils warned, as Govt report reveals NZ's sea levels may rise by almost a metre by 2060

Local councils need to start planning now for dramatic sea level rise, a new report warns


15 December, 2017

The stark warning comes in Ministry for the Environment advice to local government on preparing for "coastal change", and it's coupled with an admission by Climate Minister James Shaw that New Zealand "currently lacks a coordinated plan on how to adapt to climate change."

Auckland underwater - sea level rise simulation shows areas worst hit by climate change

This simulation shows which parts of Auckland would be underwater at high tide if the sea were to rise by three metres.

The report, which was available to the previous government in May, says New Zealand lacks a coordinated plan to weather the storms to come.

According to Environment officials' projections, in a worst case scenario, sea levels could rise by almost a metre by 2060. Within a century (2120), that could be by as much as 1.36m.

Just over 133,000 people in coastal areas could be affected.

ONE News used Google Earth data to generate a simulation of which areas would be affected by a three metre sea level rise – the areas shown are approximate.

More than 68,000 buildings are at risk - and the total cost of replacing them is $19b dollars. That includes 382 "critical facility" buildings, five airports, more than 1500 jetties and wharves, 46km of railway and more than 2000km of roads.

The hardest hit areas are in Canterbury and Hawkes Bay - with Waikato having the greatest length of roads exposed.

Wastewater treatment plants, potable water supplies and stormwater and overland drainage systems will all be affected.

"Ongoing sea-level rise will lead to irreversible impacts at the coast ... because many land-use planning and asset and infrastructure decisions made today have long lifetimes because of the permanency of development (eg, subdivision, buildings and infrastructure), planning for adaptation at the coast needs to start now," the report reads.

It continues: "Over time, however, communities will be left increasingly exposed, with vulnerable assets and a stock of private and public investment (eg, buildings, roads, utility services, sea walls) for which difficult decisions will be required - remove, relocate or demolish, or invest substantially to protect.

"The places and environments valued by people will also be exposed to increasing impacts, and vulnerable groups and those without the capacity to move will be particularly affected.

"The likely scale, extent and impact of the evolving increase in coastal risk will be unprecedented across New Zealand."

The report also says sea levels are expected to keep rising for several centuries, even if global gas emissions are reduced, and we can expect more dramatic weather events causing high tides.

If the sea level rises by between 0.3 and 0.4 metres - possibly by 2050 - we can expect rare storm tide inundations to happen at least once per year.
"In New Zealand, by 2050-2070, extreme coastal water levels that are currently expected to be reached or exceeded only once every 100 years (on average) will occur at least once per year or more."

Climate Change minister James Shaw says the report shows "the size of the task to build New Zealand's resilience to rising sea levels, a warmer climate, extreme weather and other impacts of climate change".

"It's important that New Zealanders have a clear picture of the potential impacts of climate change so that communities, local and central government, business and other sectors of our economy can make well-informed decisions about how we build resilience and adapt," he said.

Mr Shaw says the country is "in the early stages of planning" but that it currently lacks a coordinated plan on how to adapt to climate change.

The Government's Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group will report back with recommendations on adapting to the impacts of climate change in March.

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