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Peat criticizes indecision over climate change

A new book on coastal hazards and climate change, being launched in Wellington tomorrow, takes aim at successive New Zealand governments for chronic indecision over climate-change policy.

Dunedin author and environmentalist Neville Peat, in his book The Invading Sea, says New Zealand has been ‘found wanting on both coastal hazard preparedness and greenhouse gas mitigation – a case of too little, too slow, too inclined to be leaving it to the next generation.’

He goes on to say,‘Political momentum is shifting, though. The current government has recognised we need new legislation to overcome decades of poor performance on carbon reduction. We’ve been going backwards on targets. We also need a more concerted effort on the adaptation side.’

Peat’s book highlights low-lying coastal hazards on mainland New Zealand and Pacific atoll states as the main area of climate-change risk: ‘Low-lying coast is a chronically grim frontline of climate change, socially and economically, and the frontline with the most to lose.’

Peat, a Dunedin City councillor in the last term and previously an Otago regional councillor for nine years, predicts coastal flooding and erosion will be ‘the standout environmental issue of the 21st century’.

The Invading Sea is not written to spread panic; rather, it is saying that the government, through councils and in conjunction with communities, scientists, planners and engineers, must focus harder and act more practically to achieve fair solutions.’

‘Councils everywhere need to sharpen their planning policies and stop issuing approvals for investment in housing or commercial development that are patently vulnerable to coastal erosion and flooding. A dollar spent on hazard risk reduction will avoid loss and
disruption that would likely cost three dollars.’

‘No one wants hell and high water, says Peat.

He notes that his book is being released as the government moves to introduce its Zero Carbon Bill, and the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change predicts global warming will exceed a disastrous 2 degrees Celsius unless radical greenhouse-gas action is taken immediately around the world.

The Invading Sea by Neville Peat is published by The Cuba Press and will be launched in Wellington by Professor James Renwick at the Stout Research Centre, Victoria University, 5.30pm, 11 October 2018; and by Sir Alan Mark at Dunedin Central Library, 5.30pm, 24 October 2018.

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