Politicians relatively silent on climate change this election but inaction poses great cost of living crisis - expert

With Cyclone Gabrielle at the front of many voters' minds, this election was meant to be the climate election but, instead, the cost-of-living crisis largely dominated.

However, one expert is warning if politicians remain quiet on climate policies, the costly flow on effects to Kiwis' pockets will be great.

Appearing on Newhub Nation on Saturday, WWF-New Zealand chief executive Kayla Kingdon-Bebb said she was astonished at how silent people were on climate change in the debate. 

"This was supposed to be a climate election… What is really concerning for me actually is that the kind of commitments that have been made by the major parties around climate have not been backed up by some standard policy commitment," Dr Kingdon-Bebb told co-host Simon Shepherd.

She said the short-term costs around the cost of living are more politically sellable but climate change is also a cost-of-living expense.

This year, New Zealand has seen one of its most expensive natural disasters - Cyclone Gabrielle – which is expected to cost billions of dollars, on par with the Christchurch earthquake from 12 years ago.

"This country can't sustain natural disaster after natural disaster, and not have that cost flow through to everyday lives," Dr Kingdon-Bebb warned.

She wants political leaders to be brave enough to make calls that will foster long-term intergenerational equity.

"The cost that we are putting on the shoulders of our children, our grandchildren and even our future selves by failing to address climate change and biodiversity laws is just incredible, it's actually morally reprehensible," she said.

With preliminary election results showing a change in Government, some climate action policies are at risk of being cut.

Dr Kingdon-Bebb is concerned because while the National Party said meeting New Zealand's international commitments is a bottom line, she believes it has not backed it up with policy commitments.

"We've been obsessed with fiscal holes in this election, right… But if we are going to defund the climate emergency response fund by $2.3 billion, you're going to cut the clean car rebate… and you're going to explore offshore oil and gas – I'd like to know how we are going to meet those commitments.

"It's not a fiscal hole, it's a fiscal abyss."

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