Confusion reigns due to lack of leadership on climate change - Ministry for the Environment

New Zealand does not have a coordinated plan for adapting to climate change, there's little evidence of proactive planning and the health sector has no plan for adaptation.

Those are some of the findings in a stocktake report from the Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group for the Ministry for the Environment.

The Working Group was commissioned by the previous Government. National's climate change spokesperson says its report is welcomed.

The report is critical of the Government's climate response in recent years, saying most action has been "reactive to climate-related events" and there is limited evidence of proactive adaptation response.

Misalignment in how climate change goals are turned into legislation has led to a lack of coordination between Government agencies and "little alignment of legislation, adaptation goals or agreement of priorities", it says.

The "health sector is not organised for adapting to climate change, with no clear goals or understanding of what is expected of them and no plan for how to go about adaptation". 

There's a similar warning around infrastructure decisions. The "majority of cases… do not currently consider climate change impacts".

A few local councils are starting to work on climate mitigation, but local government bodies reported a "lack of leadership and support from central Government", limited support from the community and a lack of resources.

Mr Muller says New Zealand is "playing its part when it comes to climate change". He says the purpose of the report was to identify areas for improvement and advice on building resilience.

He said National is open to working with Government to build on National's climate plan, but he said "any plan must be practical and pragmatic."

"As always, the devil is in the detail and any decisions made could have very real consequences for taxpayers, ratepayers and private landowners."

The report's warnings around climate change aren't new.

It says extreme weather events will occur more frequently and be more intense. There will be more flooding, droughts and wildfires. The sea level will rise and oceans will be warmer and more acidic. 

"This will threaten our coastal communities, cities, infrastructure, human health, biodiversity, oceans and resource-based economy," the report says. 

Climate change is also expected to increase the number of invasive species in New Zealand and put native species like frogs and lizards at risk.