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NZ insurers welcome climate change consultation

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The New Zealand Government has produced a discussion document and begun public consultation on its Zero Carbon Bill, which aims to set emissions targets in law.

The document seeks feedback on whether the country’s net zero target should apply only to carbon dioxide or to various gases.

It also outlines the importance of adapting to climate change effects that are already inevitable, and proposes a national climate change risk assessment.

“Climate change poses a number of risks long-recognised by insurers,” Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) CEO Tim Grafton says.

“We welcome the next step in implementing legislation to address it and look forward to working with [the Government] on this important issue.”

He praised the inclusion of adaptation and risk reduction in the discussion document, saying that “unless we take steps to adapt to these and reduce our risks, the costs of climate change will continue to rise”.

“The longer we wait, the more it will cost and, ultimately, failing to adapt to climate change will have big social and economic costs to New Zealand.”

ICNZ says last year was the nation’s most expensive for extreme weather events, costing private insurers nearly $NZ243 million ($223.79 million).

“Already this year, severe weather has cost more than $NZ173 million ($159.33 million), and that’s without final figures for cyclones Fehi or Gita or provisional figures for the Rotorua and Hawke’s Bay floods,” Mr Grafton says.

“These storms are evidence of the very real impacts of climate change and of the importance of a long-term commitment to identify, monitor and address climate change risks.

“This is an opportunity to form a national strategy that could standardise the approaches of central and local government to tackling climate change adaptation and mitigation.

“The sort of certainty in approach this could provide would help insurers and the public more accurately measure and understand risk, particularly regarding properties.”

ICNZ will consult with members before making a submission.