Climate Change Minister Simon Watts has announced the coalition government’s plans on climate adaptation.

NZPI was pleased to learn this morning that work is underway at Ministry for the Environment on an ‘adaptation framework’. Minister Watts has announced two initiatives to support this work. The first is that the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee will conduct an inquiry into guiding objectives and principles for the design of a climate adaptation framework. Once the principles are established, Ministers will consider if legislation is needed.

The second initiative is the establishment of an independent reference group to support policy development. This group will test policy ideas and help to explore the challenges under the current system experienced by Treaty partners, banks and insurers, local government and others.

We are heartened by the reference to cross-party support for this work.

The adaptation framework will cover ways to:

  • Minimise the long-term costs of adaptation.
  • Ensure any support is certain, predictable, principled, and fair. This includes clarifying the roles and responsibilities for providing support of insurers, local government, the Crown, and other groups.
  • Improve the sharing of information.
  • Contribute to maintaining efficient housing and insurance markets.
  • Ensure people have the ability and incentive to make decisions to reduce their risk where they can.

In August last year, the Environment Select Committee opened an inquiry into climate adaptation and called for submissions. Approximately 150 submissions were lodged, including by NZPI, but the inquiry did not progress following the change in government. Minister Watts says that these submissions will be considered in the new inquiry. We are glad that significant mahi will be not be wasted. The Finance and Expenditure Committee is likely to call for further public submissions. There is no date for this yet, but Minister Watts has asked the Committee to report back to Parliament by 5th September, so we expect the process to move quickly.

Minister Watts confirmed this morning that this inquiry represents a shift in focus to the fiscal implications of adaptation. Who pays for adaptation is certainly a critical question. NZPI is hopeful there will be a whole-of-system approach to the development of the adaptation framework, including consideration of process, participation, partnership with tangata whenua, and integration with the resource management system.

Minister Watts’ press release can be found here

Ministry for the Environment’s information page can be found here