James Shaw expresses 'lost decades' on climate action, sets out blueprint for how Aotearoa will adapt

"Tremendously frustrating" is how Climate Change Minister James Shaw feels about the "lost decades" of action on climate change in Aotearoa.

On Wednesday, Shaw announced the first national adaptation plan which lays out 120 actions to prepare communities for the impacts of climate change. It includes everything from roading decisions and flood insurance, to measures like moving entire communities or million-dollar waterfront homes.

But the question of how much it'll cost and who pays for it remains unanswered, all while the impacts of a warming planet are upon us.

"We have known about climate change for more than three decades," said Shaw. 

The Climate Change Minister first to admit we are playing catch up.

"And that is tremendously frustrating because if we'd started earlier it would have cost us less."

That's why as well as reducing emissions, the Government has its first ever blueprint for how Aotearoa adapts to climate change, setting out priorities for the next six years.

The plan is based on 43 risks, the major ones being to native ecosystems, social wellbeing due to having to relocate, deepening inequities, economic costs and water supply.

"How we resolve this is by having good planning, is by putting in place those good decision-making frameworks, is by working out funding and financing frameworks to help people to adapt."

That includes legislation to govern how communities are moved when their homes become uninhabitable.

Costs will be shared between homeowners, local and central government, insurance companies and banks, and making sure homes and infrastructure are built away from harm.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council has mapped the impact of climate change on its coastal areas.

"We know that's going to be expensive and complex with over 1000 properties impacted and a $2 billion price tag," said Council's asset management group manager Chris Dolley.

There are 675,000 Kiwis living in flood-prone areas, the big challenge for the Government is making sure the cost of adaptation is fair for everyone.

"The coastal communities are very diverse. You got people rolling in dough and other people with very modest incomes," Owhiro Bay resident Eugene Doyle told Newshub.

"The orientation of the adaptation work programme has to be supporting people who do not have the resource to be able to deal with those challenges themselves," Shaw said. 

The Government also pledged to work with Māori to protect vulnerable taonga and help every Kiwi cope with our rapidly changing world.

"We can't just throw our hands up and say the Government's got to pay for everything, we're all in it together," Doyle said. 

Together the only way forward is to make up for lost time.