Local Government New Zealand's call for government action to address rising sea levels met with minister's somewhat muted response

James Shaw.

Calls by Local Government New Zealand for the government to help establish a new agency and fund to help address the risks of rising sea levels may have fallen on deaf ears.

It follows the release last week of an LGNZ report, Vulnerable: The quantum of local government infrastructure exposed to sea level rise.

It looks at the cost to councils around the country from rising sea levels caused by global warming and says up to $14 billion of local government infrastructure is at risk.

The report calls on central government to urgently develop policies to help minimise the impact of climate change on New Zealand communities. This includes the establishment of a National Climate Change Adaptation Fund to deal with the costs of rising sea levels and a Local Government Risk Agency to help councils understand and factor in the risk of climate change into their planning and decision-making.

“We’ve been engaged with central government on this subject for some time,” LGNZ President Dave Cull says. "Central government has been pretty slow off the mark and it has been local government which has led the charge on it. We’ve done this high level review and it’s time central government got on board because only they can come up with a national framework for it.”

He says most local authorities around the country haven’t truly quantified the scale of risks they face and creating an agency to deal with that would improve the process.

Cull says the agency’s brief would probably be much wider than just dealing with climate change and could include other risks like natural disasters. He says it would be able to collect relevant data to help local authorities.

“We need that data to find out exactly what the risks are. There's a need for coordination in how councils respond. If some areas aren’t inhabitable who takes on board the liability? I’m not pointing the finger at anyone, but we need to get on with it.

“We see the need for a National Climate Change Adaptation Fund. We can’t wait until it hits the next generation in 15 years’ time and say: 'You’re paying for it'. This is a multi-generational challenge and we’re all going to have to pay for it. The cost of adaption is huge, but not as big as it would be if we do nothing.”

“What we’re recommending is we all get together; central government, local government, the insurance industry, so there’s a coordinated approach. It makes more sense to be proactive.”

“All the country’s councils are at one in acknowledging the effect climate change is having and need to put in place adaption measures.”

But in a statement released on the same day as the LGNZ report Climate Change Minister James Shaw didn’t say he would establish a Local Government Risk Agency or a National Climate Change Adaptation Fund and stated:  

“The Government intends to push ahead this year with work to establish a National Climate Change Risk Assessment system to help communities, councils and central government deal with the impacts of climate change.

“That work will also incorporate consideration of the very difficult issue of how we spread the financial burden of climate change impacts.”

Speaking to www.interest.co.nz he said work was under way to figure out how to split the costs local authorities were facing around the country, but it’s too early to talk about the funding models being considered, let alone put a date on when money will actually be put on the table.

“I think that there’s a model out there, which appropriately shares risk between private property owners, banks, insurance companies, local government and central government and does that in a way that doesn’t create any moral hazard. Now that’s complex, and it’s worth taking the time to do. We don’t need that tomorrow, but what we do need to do is get started on it.”

He recognises the LGNZ report, saying there is a “window of roughly 25 years before government starts parking its ambulance at the bottom of a metaphorical hill”.

“There is some urgency, but there’s no need to panic,” Shaw says.

Despite Cull’s calls for urgency from central government it sounds like Shaw is working to a different timeframe.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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12 Comments

Nothing to panic about. The sea level rise, if it happens, will take 100 years. No need for "commissions" or trying to find somebody to pay. The thing will just evolve.
Councils should just get on with it - slowly - less fuss and fewer hui please. The old town clarks would have just done something simple and sensible.

+1

We have only seen a small acceleration in sea level rise to date.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_level_rise

There should not be any compensation. Local government just needs to consider contours of sea level and plan for it.

.

The longest time that a NZ party sits continuously in the office to form a central government has not been exceeding 12 years.

And you ask the central government to plan something for 50 years, which is nearly 5 times of its life span.

Impossible!

If only we had a president for life. Think of the economic benefit of not having expensive elections. Lets elect a president Canute.

"By considering the average of the tide gauges included in the Japan-5, Oceania-4 and West Coast of North America-20 data sets, both the relative rate of rise and the acceleration are negative,−0.02139 mm/yr and −0.00007 mm/yr2 respectively.

...The measured values of sea level rate of rise and acceleration are much smaller than the models' predictions and the speculations. Fig. 8 further confirms the lack of any sign of the climate models'
predict accelerated sea level rise already evidenced in many works
(Beenstock et al., 2012; Beenstock et al., 2015; Boretti, 2012a; Boretti,
2012b; Boretti and Watson, 2012; Dean and Houston, 2013; Douglas,
1992; Douglas and Peltier, 2002; Holgate, 2007; Houston and Dean,
2011; Jevrejeva et al., 2006; Jevrejeva et al., 2008; Mörner, 2004;
Mörner, 2007; Mörner, 2010a; Mörner, 2010b; Mörner, 2010c; Mörner,
2011a; Mörner, 2011b; Mörner, 2013; Mörner, 2016; Parker, 2013c,d,e;
Parker, 2014a,b; Parker and Ollier, 2015; Parker, 2016a,b,c,d,e; Parker
and Ollier, 2017a; Parker and Ollier, 2017b; Parker, 2018a,b,c;
Scafetta, 2014; Schmith et al., 2012; Watson, 2011; Wenzel and
Schröter, 2010; Wunsch et al., 2007).

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0964569118303417

I predicted the behaviour of people like you ten years ago. I have been very accurate so far.

Yet his bio reads,

"Albert Parker, xxxxx Independent Scientist, Australia" aka Alberto Boretti's whos profile at the University of Ballarat lists a large number of publications in the area of internal combustion engines.

"Boretti's primary experience was the research and development of engines for Fiat. "

looking good eh? a fossil fuel advocate maybe?

Then were he publishes,

"publishers like OMICS International promoting so-called “open access” publishing. OMICS faces charges brought on by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for deceptive marketing practices. A FTC press release noted: [27], [28]

“According to the complaint, the defendants deceptively claim that their journals provide authors with rigorous peer review and have editorial boards made up of prominent academics when in fact, many articles are published with little to no peer review and many individuals represented to be editors have not agreed to be affiliated with the journals."

So its looking like a climate denier publishing in a journal as the journal accepts money, no questions asked, yes really reliable.

"Half of Boretti's references are to his own publications, including one he published in Energy & Environment journal."

yeah really creditable that.

Maybe lets see what a real scientist says,

".....leading sea level scientist Dr. John Hunter said that Parker and Ollier's research was “close to being unintelligible."

Ollier another climate denier.

So they have got so desperate now that the deniers are trying to make their papers look like creditable peer reviewed academic papers....game over me thinks.

Steven it was published in Ocean & Coastal Management. That is not an OMICS journal - but I guess you knew that before you went down the rabbit hole. Pretty poor form. If you want to play the man then get hold of the editor.
https://www.journals.elsevier.com/ocean-and-coastal-management

I will become a believer the day local govt ceases to spend millions of our taxes
around our waterfronts. Mostly vanity projects like the Americas Cup, stadiums,
Auckland Wgtn, ChCh Dunedin all busy with infrastructure around areas that are supposed to
be future flooding areas.
Watch what they do, not what they say.

A big house with a submerged wine cellar went in on two beachfront sections at a certain holiday retreat north of Auckland. As it was being built, the council was repairing a groyne and erosion damage about 100 meters away. And further south at Orewa lots of new homes are going up on the beachfront even though the council has to rebuild the seawall after every weather event. On one hand, Auckland City Council planners warn of climate change, on the other they allow huge beachfront developments, even though the evidence of erosion is clearly evident. An absolute joke!

The ongoing answer is to ramp up simple surveying of coastlines with infrastructure behind 'em. Accurate, decadal surveys (which can oh so easily be automated) would reveal the real extent of SLR. As I've said before, the effects of SLR, so-called, is actually a composite of SLR and local land rise/fall - poster child the north-east SI coast, which having risen between 1.5 and 6 metres in the Kaikoura earthquake sequence, is proof against several centuries' worth of pure SLR. Land rise/fall can be tectonic, groundwater extraction related, pure compression (e.g. of peaty soils sinking under static loads) and no doubt other mechanisms.

A few cubic metres of concrete per survey mark, a baseline established via conventional survey techniques, then go back every decade or so and re-measure. Then, and only then, start to get excited about 'SLR Effects'.

Without that baseline of actual accurate levels, there's a high probability of the whole thing turning into Yet Another Local Gubmint Munny Sink.