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NZ launches National Adaptation Plan, flood insurance review

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The New Zealand Government today launched its first National Adaptation Plan (NAP), which recommends 120 actions to build more resilient communities.

“Climate change is a global challenge, but its impacts are felt in our local communities and in our homes,” Climate Change Minister James Shaw said.

“Taking action to prepare for these impacts will make our communities safer, protect our environment, and ensure our towns and cities can continue to support people’s jobs and livelihoods.”

Mr Shaw says reducing emissions is vital but some impacts of climate change are already locked in.

“Even with 1.5 degrees of warming, we are going see the impacts of climate change on our communities and the way we live our lives. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, that we do everything we can to adapt to these changes.

“We have already seen what can unfold. Severe weather events that had previously seemed unthinkable, even only a few years ago, are now happening at a pace and intensity we have never experienced before.”

One of the actions is to “develop options for home flood insurance” as insurers increasingly rely on risk-based address-level pricing.

“Work is underway to increase understanding of the scale and timing of changes to the insurance market arising from greater use of risk-based pricing by insurers and flooding exacerbated by climate change,” the report says.

“This work includes exploring options to support access and affordability of flood insurance.

“The Government intends to develop options that ensure home flood insurance continues to play an appropriate role in supporting community resilience.”

IAG welcomed the report’s release, but says more needs to be done.

“The NAP is a great start in our response to the impacts of climate change and includes a wide range of activity that will help grow our ability to adapt,” CEO IAG New Zealand Amanda Whiting said.

“But we need to be much more specific about the steps we will take to adapt and how they will be paid for.

“As we’ve stated previously, climate change is happening. It is a critical issue for our country, and it is already having serious impacts on the lives of New Zealanders through more frequent and intense storms, floods, droughts, wildfires, and in time, rising sea levels.

“There are deliberate actions we can take to increase our resilience, alongside ongoing efforts to reduce carbon emissions. While we are pleased to see the launch of the NAP today, it’s apparent there is still a lot we need to do as a country to get ahead of these issues.”

IAG says insurance is one part of the solution, but the most important thing “is to ensure people are not in harm’s way”.

“Avoiding the impact on lives and people’s wellbeing must be the priority,” Ms Whiting says.

“To keep people safe, we need to think smarter. We need greater investment in infrastructure and other solutions that either protect people or move them out of harm’s way.”

Click here to read the plan.