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The Government has taken its first step towards implementing new climate-adaptation legislation, by announcing that the Finance and Expenditure Committee will undertake an inquiry into how New Zealand should adapt and respond to the effects of climate change.  

Earlier this month, and in a display of political unity, Parliament passed a unanimous motion establishing the inquiry, which is intended to support the development of policy and legislation to address climate adaptation (see here). 

As part of the inquiry, the Finance and Expenditure Committee have been tasked with preparing a report that identifies the high-level objectives and principles required to support the design of a climate change adaptation framework.  The Committee must take into account the submissions received by the Environment Committee in relation to the previous Government's stalled inquiry that begun in August last year (see here).

The inquiry is expected to support the creation of a framework and policies that will guide the delivery of a transparent, long-term system to strengthen how New Zealand prepares for and responds to the effects of climate change.  This is expected to promote a proactive approach to risk-management and help communities, landowners and businesses know what investment is planned for in their area and what support is available to them if they are affected by natural-events.

The Committee is due to report back by 5 September 2024.  The Minister of Climate Change, Hon Simon Watts, has indicated that legislation to support delivery of the climate change adaptation framework is expected to be introduced in early 2025.

As of this week, members of the public can submit on the inquiry's terms of reference and influence the future of climate adaptation in New Zealand.  This may include how money is to be spent on climate adaption initiatives and costs are to be shared, the creation of new roles and responsibilities, and anything else that is relevant to the purpose of the inquiry.  The submission period closes at 11.59pm, 16 June 2024.

The Government is yet to provide detail on the form or substance of the proposed new legislation, and whether it will build upon the previous Government's work in drafting the Climate Change Adaptation Bill.  The picture should become clearer later this year after the findings of the inquiry report have been considered and communicated. 

The Ministry for the Environment's overview of the adaptation framework is available online here.  

If you would like to draft a submission or want to know more about the Government's commitments in relation to climate change and how this may affect you, please get in touch with one of our team members.

This article was co-authored by Lisa Bazalo (senior associate) and Alastair Cameron (solicitor).