Vital Climate Change Guidance Report Leaked


Government Suppresses Report Before Election –

No Excuses Left For Inaction by Councils

MFE GuidanceCover

Yesterday the Green Party published the full draft copy of the Ministry for the Environment Guidance Report to Local Authorities on Climate Change. Download here 

First impressions
The key details of the report which were previously released from a Ministry PowerPoint have been confirmed. 

The Government has been exposed as incompetent and deceitful by failing to publish this report before the election. The media coverage has been universally critical of the Government. ( Stuff, TVNZ, RadioNZ )

This criticism has been deserved because Paula Bennett and Nick Smith have sat on the Report for at least 5 months, and when challenged as to why it was not released their response had nothing to do with the accuracy of the science in the report, but because they said some coastal property owners and lobbyists were upset.  Really !

The report has an impressive level of detail on climate change issues but particularly on coastal hazards such as sea level rise, inundation and erosion. The greatest emphasis in the report is on how councils should plan for and adapt to climate change/coastal hazards.

The projections for sea level rise are conservative compared to the latest projections published by US Federal agencies

The Government must release the report immediately and allow District, City and Regional Councils to incorporate the material in the Report into their planning and adaption processes.

As I have been pointing out for several months, the sea flooding information available from the Waikato Regional Council inundation tool must be taken into account by the District Council when considering major new infrastructure projects such as the Whitianga Town Upgrade and greenfield subdivision applications such as the Waterways project at Whitianga on the coast. So far, the Council has failed to do this.

However this latest National Guidance Report specifically mentions the Waikato Regional Council inundation tool. Not only that, the Report contains a map taken from the inundation tool showing the effect of sea flooding on Thames Township.

Thames map

The fact that this specific Thames map is in this National Report should send a clear message to the Thames-Coromandel District Council that they can no longer pretend that sea flooding potential for Thames and other Peninsula settlements can be ignored.

“The Report also specifically mentions (p.87) the rapid level of subsidence in the Lower Firth of Thames, which I discussed in an earlier blog and the implications this has for relative sea level rise – 

“The other known surveyed GPS sequence for coastal land movement has been on the
backshore of the southern Firth of Thames (Swales et al, 2016). Subsidence due to both
tectonic and deep-sediment compaction has been occurring at an average subsidence of
around 8-9 mm/yr (2007-16). This is two-to-five times higher than recorded for the same  period at the nearby Tararu (Thames) tide gauge (3.6±0.7 mm/yr) and the GPS reference station located further afield on basement rock (1.6±0.5 mm/yr).”