National Climate Risk Assessment

Every 5 years, the Minister for Climate Change Issues must prepare a National Climate Risk Assessment. The Climate Commission must provide advice to help the Minister assess these climate risks. The Risk Assessment will help communities, councils and businesses to better understand and respond to the effects of New Zealand’s changing climate.

What are the climate risks for New Zealand?

As climate change worsens, New Zealand will experience higher average temperatures, rising sea levels, changes in rainfall, and more frequent extreme weather events, such as droughts and flooding. These changes will have risky implications for health, biodiversity, agriculture, business, and property. 

Rising sea levels will increase the risk of coastal hazards and erosion to roads and other property, including private property. Combined with an increase in extreme weather events, these risks are a big problem for property owners and local councils, as well as insurers and other businesses. As another example, higher temperatures will increase the risk of summer diseases such as salmonella, threaten sensitive ecosystems, support crop-threatening pests, and worsen water shortages.

Different regions of New Zealand will experience different climate impacts. Some will be worse affected than others. For example, low-lying areas such as South Dunedin are particularly susceptible to rising sea levels, while regions like Canterbury and the Hawke’s Bay face the prospect of worsening droughts as a result of climate change.

Preparing the National Climate Risk Assessment

The Zero Carbon Act will require the Minister to prepare a National Climate Risk Assessment every five years. The Risk Assessment will identify and analyse climate risks, including risks specific to different regions. In particular, the Risk Assessment must also focus on how these risks may affect New Zealand communities most vulnerable to climate change.   

The Climate Commission must provide expert advice about these issues, and the Minister must then take this advice into account when preparing the Risk Assessment.