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Environment Policies to Review Climate Change

Media Release
17 October 2006

Environment Policies to Review Climate Change Impacts

MFE Head Outlines Priorities in State of the Nation’s Environment Address

New Zealand has been urged to step up its preparations for the impacts of climate change, including the effect on its built infrastructure and flood management systems.

Delivering the 7th annual Lincoln University State of the Nation’s Environment address, the chief executive of the Ministry for the Environment, Hugh Logan, says climate change will affect every aspect of New Zealanders’ lives.

“We must build resilience into our agricultural production systems and into our major investments such as infrastructure,” he says. “Infrastructure networks such as roads sewerage, electricity transmission, water reticulation and telecommunications have useful lives measured in decades. The risks to them, and the resulting costs, can be avoided or reduced with proper planning.

“Enhancing efforts to prepare for these impacts will be a major focus of work for the Ministry for the Environment and other government agencies in the coming months. We will be working with key decision makers and their advisors in Government and in business to ensure that climate change risk is effectively factored into decision making.”

The amount of greenhouse gases already released means the climate will continue to change for the next 30 to 40 years. If no action is taken, New Zealand’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are projected to increase by 30% over the next 25 years, including a 45 % increase in transport emissions.

Logan says environmental sustainability is an important component of the Government’s strategic direction. Addressing climate change and fresh water management are the current priorities. New Zealand is currently halfway through the implementation of the Sustainable Development Programme of Action Water, and significant results are expected to be seen in 2007.

A discussion document on national standards for recording water consumption is about to be released for public consultation, and national standards for waterways which provide drinking water are due to go to Cabinet. A national standard for on-site wastewater systems is also being investigated.

Logan says a clean, healthy environment will continue to be New Zealand’s major competitive advantage. “New Zealand must be aware of the rising trend towards ethical consumerism that is affecting investment and consumer behaviour. Issues such as fair trade, sustainable sourcing, humane treatment of animals and wise use of natural resources are factors in decisions to purchase particular products.”

The grocery industry in the United Kingdom had reported sales of “ethical products”
increasing by 7.5 per cent a year, compared with 4.2 per cent for conventional products. The European market for organic products has grown by 26 per cent since 2001. Both trends were driven by growing concern about the environmental impact of artificial fertilisers and pesticides, as well as mainstream concerns about the consumption of possibly dangerous chemicals.

“Price and commodity are still important but the trends and data suggest that in trade terms the environment does matter.”

Logan noted several significant developments, with major companies such as Nestle and Unilever establishing the Sustainable Agriculture Platform, a food industry body that supports the development of improved agricultural practices. In New Zealand, Fonterra has initiated a Clean Streams Accord in partnership with central government and regional councils. More of these responses were needed to protect New Zealand’s strategic advantage.

The State of the Nation’s Environment address is hosted annually by Lincoln University’s Isaac Centre for Nature Conservation. Lincoln University’s Vice Chancellor, Roger Field, says the address has become one of the major public statements on Lincoln University’s calendar. He said this year’s address effectively highlighted the connection between the economy and the environment, and the need for strong leadership.


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