Top 10 Climate Risks Our summary of the first NZ Adaptation Plan

16 August 2022 by Jason Quinn

New Zealand’s first national adaptation plan is out for discussion. I have to say it reads like a plan to have a plan. Now the real work begins: what we are actually going to do as a society to adapt to climate change? It’s worth reading. I recommend skimming the Executive Summary and then jumping to Appendix 2.

As James Shaw says in his foreword: “Of course, we mustn’t lose sight of the urgent need to lower our emissions. Because the severity with which we will experience climate change can be lessened if we do all we can to limit warming. With that in mind, we will also soon release New Zealand’s first emissions reduction plan. But we know some climate impacts are locked in. And we know those impacts will be felt differently by different people and in different regions. “

We are already seeing the devastating effects of a climate warmed by just 1.1C over 100 years: freak rainfalls and snowfalls, heatwaves and cold snaps of previously unknown extremes, intensified droughts. Our nation needs to adapt to the changes we can’t avoid and work to reduce the changes where we can.

Here’s my TLDR; Top 10 Climate Risks—my summary of Appendix 2


  1. Risk to coastal ecosystems due to sea-level rise and extreme weather
  2. Risk to indigenous ecosystems and species


  1. Risk to social cohesion from displacement
  2. Risk of exacerbating existing inequities and creating new inequities


  1. Risk to government’s ability to fund stuff due to extreme events and ongoing changes
  2. Risk to financial system stability due to extreme events and ongoing changes


  1. Risk to potable water supply
  2. Risk to buildings


  1. Risk of poor adaptation as we’re not used to thinking of these sort of changes
  2. Risk that governance will make it worse as our systems are not set-up to deal with these changes.

Good summaries from key media outlets: 

Insurers may be ‘reluctant’ to offer cover after even small sea level rise – expert | RNZ News

Fears planned city library will become ‘stranded asset’ amid faster sea level rise |

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