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Significant NZ climate change impacts predicted

Thursday 12 July 2001 Media Statement

Significant climate change impacts predicted for NZ


Climate change is serious and will have implications for all New Zealanders says a new report released today by Pete Hodgson, Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change.

The report — Climate Change Impacts on New Zealand — is based on expert reports and peer-reviewed scientific studies published internationally and in New Zealand. It updates the last Government-led assessment produced in 1990.

The report says New Zealand temperatures are likely to rise significantly by 2100, affecting our health, agriculture, native ecosystems, sea levels and urban environment.

"Every aspect of New Zealand life will be affected in one way or another," Mr Hodgson said. "There will be winners and losers in the short term, but there is little question that in the long run our economy and human welfare will be under substantial threat if we don't respond to the issue."

The expected impacts covered in the report include:
- drier conditions in eastern New Zealand;
- risk of more frequent extreme events such as floods and droughts;
- retreating snowlines and glaciers;
- rising sea levels, with increased risk of erosion and saltwater intrusion;
- possible productivity gains for agriculture, coupled with increased risk of droughts and spreading pests and diseases;
- increased vulnerability of native ecosystems to invasion by exotic species;
- increased risk to human health from subtropical diseases and ultraviolet radiation, benefits of warmer winters and risks from hot summers.

"Our knowledge about climate change impacts is still patchy and uncertain," Mr Hodgson said. "But this doesn't mean we can be complacent and continually defer action. New Zealand needs a long-term adaptation strategy and we must also continue to play our part in international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

“We now have a comprehensive impacts report setting out the likely consequences of doing nothing. If we fail to act our children will live to regret it."

Mr Hodgson said 11 Government agencies were involved in the New Zealand Climate Change Programme, working on policy options that would be consulted on later in the year.

Attached: executive summary of Climate Change Impacts on New Zealand.
The full report is available from Brenda Wallace, Ministry for the Environment, (04) 9177 510, or www.climatechange.govt.nz

ENDS

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