PM Jacinda Ardern says shocking new sea level predictions not 'inevitable', highlight importance of reducing emissions

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says shocking new sea level predictions highlight the importance of reducing emissions. 

The startling new research has pinpointed areas of New Zealand where sea level rise will greatly outpace the global prediction of 30cm by 2060 which is based on achieving the Paris climate agreement. 

For parts of our two biggest cities, Auckland and Wellington, 30cm of sea level rise isn't 40-50 years away, but just 10-20. That is because New Zealand sits on two tectonic plates.

By 2060, it's approaching a metre and that will cause dramatic inundation, untold damage and ultimately force people to abandon their homes and businesses and retreat from the coast. 

Speaking with AM on Monday Ardern said although the results are startling, Kiwis need to make sure they aren't seeing sea level rises as "inevitable". 

"It just reaffirms for me why it is so important that we do two things, firstly that we play our part in making sure we are reducing our emissions as a nation, that is ultimately why we are seeing these sea level rises so we need to do our part. 

"The second thing is making sure that we are prepared, not treating it as an inevitability that we will see continual sea level rise but preparing ourselves," she said. 

Ardern said the Government is in the process of working on a national adaptation plan. 

But the Prime Minister had a warning for Kiwis considering buying a coastal property. 

"This is where we need to make sure councils have really good information for two reasons, so they are able to do planning to ensure that they are zoning areas where there is risk and we are not seeing new infrastructure built in places which are at risk so that we don't see those stranded assets. 

"Firstly, of course, having as much information out there for people is key… At the same time, there is a piece of work that needs to be done around where does the cost burden fall of residential housing or assets be they local or central Government?"

Ardern said the central Government cannot cover every cost from sea level rises, which is why work is underway with local government and private insurers to ensure the cost burden is falling in the right place. 

The study's results were so extreme they even shocked the study's lead scientists, Richard Levy and Tim Naish,

"I was shocked. I mean I knew it was bad, I knew we were getting sea level rise, we know that, I've been a climate scientist for 20 years, but I was shocked at how quickly it can happen," Naish told Newshub. 

"As we were going through it the surprises just kept coming," Levy added. 

So who's in the firing line? 

Ōwhiro Bay in Wellington is in trouble as well as Auckland's Britomart. The north-western motorway, Tamaki Drive, Napier's brand new airport, Nelson's airport while Christchurch and Dunedin have big problems too.