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Climate change risk to prosperity

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/04/2016
© Mark Coote/Bloomberg

New Zealand needs to take the economic and financial risks of climate change seriously, says the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

Dr Jan Wright is calling for bold leadership on climate change from the government, following the signing of the Paris Agreement by 175 countries, including New Zealand.

"New Zealand needs to take this seriously," she said.

"The Governor of the Bank of England is worried. So are the leaders of the G20 countries. Climate change threatens financial resilience and long-term prosperity."

She said the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) does not go far enough and must be strengthened.

On Thursday, Dr Wright presented a submission on the ETS to parliament, pointing out minor examples of New Zealand law and regulations that needed to be "scrutinised through a climate change lens".

Car park spaces for apartments encouraged car ownership and discouraged the use of public transport, she said.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said Finance Minister Bill English needed to open his eyes to climate change or risk being hit by the "perfect financial storm".

The Greens are calling on the government to require all public fund managers to disclose their exposure to climate risks, following Dr Wright's report.

"Publicly managed funds in New Zealand have significant investments in the fossil fuel industry, in assets that could lose value rapidly as major economies like China and the EU shift to cleaner energy," Mr Shaw said.

"New Zealanders, who have money tied up in these funds, should be aware of how much of their savings are exposed if the value of the fossil fuel industry declines."

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