New Zealand Impacts of Climate Change | WWF New Zealand

New Zealand Impacts of Climate Change



 
	© PHIL REID/The Dominion Post
Mel Chambers rescues young lambs threatened by flood waters in Manawatu in September 2010
© PHIL REID/The Dominion Post
Climate change is already affecting New Zealand.
The national average temperature has risen 0.9˚C over the past century.

The effects that have already been measured by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) include:

  • fewer frosts in areas like Canterbury and Marlborough
  • retreat of South Island glaciers – ice volume in the Southern Alps is down 11% in the past 30 years
  • rise in sea level by 16cm – average rise over the four major ports in the past 100 years
  • rise in insurance industry levies to cover the costs of increased incidence of extreme weather events such as floods

Future Threats

Over the next 30 – 100 years, temperatures will continue to rise. In the future, projected impacts include:
  • more droughts: for areas like the East Cape and Northland, climate change means increased droughts
  • more floods: for other areas, particularly the West Coast, it means increased extreme rainfall
  • greater erosion – and possibly inundation– of coastal areas
  • introduction of new pests and disease, affecting both health and agriculture.
It’s also likely that our lives and livelihoods will be significantly affected by global impacts such as immigration, food shortages, and political instability.

Are we prepared?

 
	© National Geographic Stock/ Tyrone Turner / WWF
Houses flooded by Hurricane Katrina with the city in the background, New Orleans, United States.
© National Geographic Stock/ Tyrone Turner / WWF
City and Regional Councils are responsible for preparing our cities and towns for these impacts. They are advised by the Ministry for the Environment.

Some New Zealand councils are already planning ahead for sea-level rise of at least 50cm by 2100 because it will affect where to position new houses, roads, waste and stormwater pipes.

Wellington City and Christchurch City both have a plan on how to tackle the effects of climate change.

Does your council have a plan?  Ask them.