Urge our government to fund climate adaptation! | WWF New Zealand

To: All political parties


This general election, I urge all New Zealand political parties to pledge to fund climate adaptation if you are elected.

We need to protect our homes, our farms, and our towns and cities from the impacts of the climate crisis.

The Climate Adaptation Technical Working Group recommended that the government urgently step up adaptation funding in May 2018. Since then, the government has adopted many of these experts' urgent recommendations - but we still need proper funding to protect people and nature.

The alternative is a much, much greater human, ecological and economic cost.

Pledge to fund climate adaptation now, or the price we will pay in the future will be much higher.




The devastating impacts of the climate crisis are now unavoidably apparent.

Every day we see new stories of people, wildlife, communities and countries who are battling with the impacts of our changing climate.

Australia’s bushfires are the most recent example, blazes which raged much longer and stronger than usual - because of unfathomably high temperatures and low rainfalls. Scientists confirm that this is due to climate change1.

Many of these stories are made much worse because governments like ours are chronically underfunding climate adaptation. They are failing to protect us, to help us become more resilient to extreme weather events, sea level rise and other huge impacts from this crisis.

New Zealand’s top experts in 2018 urged the government to commit real funding to protect people and nature from the devastating impacts of climate change2. The climate crisis already threatens peoples’ homes and livelihoods here in Aotearoa. Thousands of New Zealand homes could be flooded by 2050 - along with hundreds of kilometres of roads, and several major airports3.

But successive governments have underfunded this crucial work.

This year, on September 19, we will have a general election. We need our new government to put meaningful pledges and real budget commitments behind climate adaptation - to protect people and nature.

If political parties know that voters care about climate adaptation, they will have no choice but to bring real commitments to the election - or risk losing votes.




What is climate adaptation?

We are used to the Earth’s climate, and the ways we live rely on it staying constant. But human activity is changing it. Fast.

We need to change too, because the things we rely on to survive are disappearing.

Climate experts talk about two main kinds of climate action: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation is reducing the emissions that cause the problem. Adaptation is preparing for the changes that are happening and that we know will come. It’s things like rebuilding roads away from areas that are already experiencing coastal flooding.

Why we need to adapt, not react

Putting measures in place to help our country adapt to the impacts of climate change is vitally important.

Adaptation will mean changing the way we live, and will involve governments investing their money differently, but the alternatives are much harder. Reacting to climate change is much costlier than adapting. This can be seen with the devastation and loss of life after climate change fuelled events like the Australian bushfires and Brazillian floods.

Without adaptation these events will continue to wreak havoc, and they will only get worse.


  1. See for example IPCC lead author Stefan Rahmstorf quoted in Tara Law ‘Australia's Wildfires and Climate Change Are Making One Another Worse in a Vicious, Devastating Circle’ Time Magazine (7 January 2020).
  2. Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group ‘Adapting to climate change in New Zealand: Recommendations from the Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group’ Ministry for the Environment (May 2018).
  3. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment ‘Preparing New Zealand for rising seas’ (November 2015).
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