One Decade of Unrestrained Coastal Development in Auckland Adds 8000 People at Risk From Sea Level Rise

Insurance Warnings Repeated

For some time I’ve been commenting on the dangers of increasing the risk of coastal development in low-lying areas threatened by sea level rise.  A new report from Auckland has documented just how significantly that risk has increased even in the last decade.

The report by the Auckland City Council has documented the Auckland region’s exposure to various scenarios of climate change driven sea level rise.  Already between 1.5% and 4.5% of the city’s land area now sat on low-lying coastal areas that could be vulnerable. 


The report found, over the past decade, the population boomed in those areas vulnerable sealevel rise more than on the region overall now leaving about 3% of Auckland is exposed.  That equated to about 43,000 people up from 34,700 people in 2001.

We, therefore, have a scenario where an additional 8000 people in Auckland have been placed at risk from risky subdivision and development in coastal areas just in the last 10 years.

How much longer will we permit this madness to continue?  

The report also highlighted the severe risk for rural coastal areas – there was a risk that 5% of the region’s most fertile land could be at risk as early as the middle of the century.

The Auckland report has drawn further warnings from the Insurance Council which have been made by CEO Tim Grafton for several years.

“As house insurance was typically offered out 12 months ahead, the effects of climate change, 20 years down the track, weren’t being signalled today, Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton said.

“What we can say is that if we ignore sea-level rise and permit more and more property to be at risk from climate change, then there will inevitably be a day when losses due to sea-level rise, storm surges and flooding become more and more frequent,” he said.

“If we continue to do nothing, then insurers will respond by deciding whether they want to accept those risks and if they do, they will price to reflect the higher risk or increase the levels of excess or the initial amount an insured will have to pay when losses occur.”