About adapting to climate change

This page outlines the reasons why we need to prepare for climate change impacts on New Zealand.

Impact of climate change on New Zealand

The global impacts of climate change are already becoming evident and further climate change is inevitable due to the greenhouse gas emissions already in the atmosphere. In New Zealand climate change could significantly impact our economy, environment and society.

For more information about the impact of climate change on New Zealand see: About climate change

The impacts are likely to vary between regions. See: How might climate change affect my region?

What is adaptation?

Adaptation is preparing for the impacts of climate change to protect our people, environment and economy. It’s an ongoing process. It involves taking action to reduce risks as well as taking advantage of any opportunities that result from climate change. We can do things like improve flood protection, change the way we build houses, roads and other infrastructure and where we build them. We might move vital power lines or telecommunications away from the coast. Farmers could change the crops and animals they farm to ones better adapted to a changing climate. We will have to continually review what we do as the impact of climate change on our communities becomes clearer.

Requirement for action

We need to take action so that we can be more resilient to our current climate and less susceptible to the impacts of future climate change. We need to be in a position to take advantage of any opportunities that may be presented.

We have a long coastline and varied landscape, our cities and key infrastructure are mainly on the coast and our economy relies on agriculture. Our people and the economy are vulnerable to extreme weather, sea level rise and shifts in climatic conditions. All of these effects are expected with climate change and they may also affect our plants and animal life on land and in the sea. People could also suffer if new pests and diseases take hold. 

While there is some uncertainty about the timing and exact nature of climate change impacts, many of the costs can be avoided or reduced with effective forward planning.