Businesses need to act now after climate change report - Westpac

Taking immediate action on climate change will save New Zealand billions of dollars in the long run, according to a new study.

The Westpac-commissioned report found delaying efforts will hurt the economy - and every sector needs to get on board.

Vern Brassel from Kaiwaiwai Dairies in the Wairarapa is a forward-thinker. His farm includes a wetland that soaks up nitrates, which he says is a future investment.

"It will add value to our products - more so probably in the future but we are thinking ahead."

A new climate change report supports Mr Brassel's approach, saying early action will bring huge benefits for New Zealand's economy in the long run.

"If we take action now, it might be a little bit more in the short run," says Westpac's chief economist Dominick Stephen.

"But overall, by 2050, we found that the total cost will be $30 billion less than if we delay until 2030."

Westpac commissioned the report to better target investment, as New Zealand grapples with the impact of climate change.

It found adopting green technologies and carbon zero policies sooner will help meet the Paris Agreement targets and bring billions in GDP growth.

"Businesses need certainty in order to plan," says Mr Stephens.

"If they get that certainty now, they can plan and the transition is slower and less disruptive."

Delaying action would provide higher growth in the short-term - but by 2030 there would be a rush to transition, which would "shock" the economy. 

Climate Change Minister James Shaw says the report is a wake-up call.

"It says this is a tremendous economic opportunity, and if we don't get into action quickly, it's going to cost a fortune."

The report also found that including agriculture in the Emissions Trading Scheme would benefit the sector in the long-run.