Greens' James Shaw looks for cross-party support for new climate change rules
Aucklands flooding was "probably the most severe climate-related event of its time" in New Zealand, Climate Change Minister James Shaw says, as he attempts to pull together cross-party support for a new bill on adapting to climate change. Shaw wants to introduce the third component of resource management reform before this years election. Last year the bill, which will help New Zealand better deal with climate change , was put last on the to do list of the hefty resource management reforms . This is something that we have to deal with as a country, Shaw said. I don't think that it should be only for the Greens to be championing the fact that we need to respond to the effects of climate change that are already happening. And National is willing to come to the table for bipartisan legislation that will survive across successive governments. READ MORE: * Here are your rights and obligation for insurance and travel claims after the storm * Auckland schools opting not to offer distance learning after being closed by floods * After floods and slips comes the clean up - so where do you start? The climate adaptation proposal would cover managed retreat (where hazard-prone communities or assets are moved). Questions also remain over the future of insurance in hazard-prone areas. Shaw said the changes were one of the most complex, and has huge implications for private property, for insurance, for the way councils go about planning for events, how communities arrive at decisions. It's also really important that it's non-partisan. Shaws goal to introduce changes before the election may be too late for families dealing with the floods in Auckland and a frustrating stance for academics calling for changes to be brought in yesterday. However, Nationals climate change spokesperson Todd Muller, who has been back in the role for just over a week, said the goal was a relatively tall order in the context of the amount of issues in our collective tables this year, but he was willing to work with Shaw on creating enduring policy. The complexity on what our planning and regularly frameworks need to be, deserves time to get it right. It's not simple. Im not going to criticise James Shaw for the pace on this. He said it was so important that this doesnt seesaw across different governments. The complexity of this is just enormous. What basis do you decide certain parts of communities be moved, who pays for it? How is that shared? What do you do if people don't want to move? Shaw said the two first RMA reform changes have strong climate adaptation components, when asked if development would be restricted in some areas in future. When we're looking at where we build from this day forward, yes, there will be constraints around that because we want to make sure that we're not continuing to build houses in dumb places. However, that did not deal with what has already been built, Shaw said, which was why the managed retreat law was needed. On if there was enough funding for the development of the policy and if there was enough political appetite from the major parties to implement it, Shaw said, to be honest with you, I think that it has been hard to get traction. Victoria Universitys Economics of Disasters and Climate Change chair Professor Ilan Noy said climate resilience rules were needed yesterday. Specifically for a managed-retreat programme. Or, more accurately, we needed them before Westport was flooded a couple of years ago. The more we wait (or kick the can further down this endless road) the more it will cost us, and the more anguish we will generate in the communities affected by these catastrophes. But, it still will be an incredible achievement if government manages this before the election. On the potential scale of insurance-related issues with increasing climate change events, Noy said that no one really knows how fast insurance companies will react to the increased knowledge of hazard risks and the changing risk profiles. Elsewhere, these pivots away from insuring certain risks tended to be surprisingly fast. However, extending EQC without having a full adaptation plan in place, including a managed retreat law, will be a mistake that we may come to regret. Subsidised insurance with no adaptation will result in more development in risky areas, and in larger future costs imposed on all of us. Shaw said there had been major conversations around insurance, one of those re-framing the Earthquake Commission as a natural hazards agency . Whilst a lot of the media has been around sea level rise, we actually know in terms of the New Zealand context, that flooding prevent flooding as a more significant and more immediate risk, Shaw said. There is also some work looking at the private insurance markets and what needs to happen there, including any regulatory changes as well. But once again, the final decisions on that hasn't been made.