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Climate change

New Zealand is increasingly seen as a leader in the climate change space, but much of the policy work has focused on mitigation measures, and insufficient attention has been given to adapting to the already locked in effects of climate change and how to facilitate the shift to a low-carbon future. The effects on climate change are increasingly a concern for communities. At a local and regional level, councils play a critical role in helping communities prepare for, and respond to, natural hazard events, whose incidence and severity are increased by rapid changes in the climate. National Council has directed LGNZ to work with central government to develop policies that will enable New Zealand’s diverse communities to be resilient and adaptive in the face of climate change.

Reporting & funding

The Zero Carbon Act gives the Climate Change Commission powers over councils that will allow them to request a range of information related to mitigation and adaptation measures in their jurisdictions. Highly complex and technical information is likely to be required, and meeting this expectation will be costly and burdensome on all councils, particularly smaller ones.

This project seeks to:

  • Advocate for, and participate in, the development of a right-sized reporting methodology and framework for councils that meets the foreseeable needs of the Climate Change Commission while remaining cost effective by using a single national platform. A key focus of this work is to help identify, at a national level, where the key risks are as catalyst for starting funding discussions with central government. This project will also explore the application of new and emerging funding tools to pay for climate change related adaptation projects, including measure to protect natural environments threatened by rapid changes in climate.

Community resilience

Central Government is currently developing adaptation policy through the Community Resilience working group. Comprised of key ministries and local government representatives, the group seeks to improve the ability of communities around the country to prepare for, avoid and respond to natural hazards - including those caused or exacerbated by climate change.

This project seeks to:

  • Work with central government on identifying the gaps in the current system that prevents communities from becoming more resilient to natural hazards, and develop policies to close these, including funding shortfalls. From the local government perspective the aim is to advocate for systemic reform, as opposed to the current approach of piecemeal intervention as hazards occur. In addition, this project will examine areas of local government practice, as they relate to community resilience to natural hazards, and identify and socialise areas where improvements can be made.

Climate future fit

Councils play a pivotal role in enabling their communities and economies to adapt to a low carbon economy. Their engagement with communities determines how local places will develop in the future - the more forward thinking and climate change aware these plans are, the more communities will be better positioned to adapt to a low carbon reality.

This project seeks to:

  • Examine current engagement with communities in areas affected by climate change-related natural hazard events. The aim is to identify best practice among the local government sector using case studies, and socialise this among other councils facing similar challenges. In addition, this project seeks to identify the challenges and limitations when it comes to community engagement under the current legislative and regulatory system to identify areas for policy change.


Climate Change Project

Climate change poses an unprecedented level of risk to New Zealand’s natural and built environment. Adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change are significant challenges and a new priority focus for councils. Leading and championing policy to deal with the impacts of climate change is a key policy priority for LGNZ and its 78 member councils.

As the sphere of government with direct responsibility for environmental planning and regulation, much of the responsibility for adaptation falls to local government. However, councils cannot address these issues by themselves. To be effective, climate adaptation will require a diverse range of actions and policy approaches.

Councils can also play an important role in mitigation by working with their communities to reduce emissions.

To view the Climate Change Project microsite click here.

Related Subjects

Climate change