Climate change – the scary cost of doing nothing

Sometimes around the Regional Council table I hear concerns expressed about the short term cost of taking climate change action.  What is missing from that commentary is consideration of the massive costs of NOT taking climate action. Two recent stories have amplified the need to factor in future foreseeable costs if we do nothing to address the climate crisis.


First is the story from the Hawkes Bay where their Regional Council has commissioned a Water Security Economic Assessment Report

The report suggests Hawkes Bay could transform into an unprofitable desert in 30 years if nothing is done to stop climate change, and predicted regional gross domestic product (GDP) could fall by up to $120 million per year by 2060, hitting struggling farmers and fruit growers.

While the Hawke’s Bay may have a somewhat different climate/landscape/soils from much of the Waikato (perhaps except eastern Coromandel?) and different farming types predominate in the Waikato, it is still a huge wake-up call for our region.

I am very keen to see a similar water security economic assessment report done for our region.  We have had serious droughts in 2013 and 2020 with many more predicted by climate scientists.  Also interesting was the acknowledgement that there needs to be wider consideration of options rather than just water “storage”.

Second the story about research done by Prof Frame from Victoria University which has attributed $800 million of the estimated $4.5 billion cost of the 2007 and 2013 droughts to climate change impacts.  Goodness knows what the 2020 drought will cost, and how much of this will eventually be attributed to climate change?   Our current woes with water supply shortages in Auckland, eastern Coromandel and elsewhere are only just beginning.

Earlier research has confirm the massive predicted costs of sea level rise and coastal hazards if no action is taken to address the climate crisis.

As decision-makers we have an obligation under the RMA and the Zero Carbon bill to consider the interests of future generations. We simply cannot continue to concentrate on short-term parochial cost benefit considerations and remain blinkered to the massive costs we face if we fail to take any action on the climate crisis.