Majority of New Zealanders Call for Urgent Action on Climate Change

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Climate adaptation Half of New Zealand wanted to act on climate change urgently, decisive action on climate change could bring the country $64 billion in economic gains

A new poll in New Zealand shows that more than half of the country wanted more urgent action on climate change.

1News Kantar polled the country’s eligible voters on how they thought the government should change its climate policy in response to the recent weather events.

Of the 1002 respondents, 54% said they wanted the government to act with more urgency, 27% wanted the government to continue as planned, 10% wanted less urgency, and another 10% did not know or refused to answer.

The poll was conducted shortly after Cyclone Gabrielle tore through the North Island in February 2023, causing significant damage amounting to 8 billion (NZ$13 billion), becoming one of the country’s costliest disasters in memory.

The government issued a national state of emergency as more than 200,000 homes lost power for days, 11 people lost their lives, and in some areas received as much as 15.7 inches (400 millimetres) of rain between February 12 to 14, according to New Zealand MetService.

A study released on 15 March 2023 shows that climate change may have a hand in Cyclone Gabrielle’s intensity, causing the storm to produce almost one-third more rain than before. Scientists have warned that precipitation amounts will increase with rising temperatures as warm air hold more water vapour.

As part of the World Weather Attribution, twenty-three researchers were behind the study, including scientists from universities and meteorological agencies in New Zealand, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the US.

To determine whether and to what extent climate change intensified the extreme rainfall brought by Cyclone Gabriel, scientists used published, peer-reviewed methods to perform an event attribution study, focussing on the heavy rain associated with the most severe damages in the worst-hit regions in New Zealand’s North Island from the mountain ranges in the west and the south Pacific Ocean on the east. They compared the peak 48-hour rainfall in February 2023 with the highest 48-hour rainfall in the past years.

Their findings show heavy rains have become four times more common in the region and produce about 30% more than they might have been had human greenhouse gas emissions not warmed the planet by 1.2°C.

The study concludes that reducing the communities’ exposure and vulnerability to future flooding is important, and greater focus should be given to lifeline infrastructure’s resilience so communities can receive and respond to warnings accordingly.

To read more about the study findings, see the link to “The role of climate change in extreme rainfall associated with Cyclone Gabrielle over Aotearoa New Zealand’s East Coast” in this article’s “Source” section.

The desire of more than half of New Zealanders to see their government act more urgently to address climate change proves to be well-placed. A new report shows that failing to act could have economic consequences, while decisive action could bring economic benefits.

Deloitte’s March 2023 report illustrates that New Zealand can lose $4.4 billion of its GDP for inadequate climate action, but decisive action could increase its GDP by $64 billion by 2050.

It says the country “has the opportunity to be a leader in economic growth and prosperity through rapid decarbonisation.”

Decisive actions to keep warming to 1.5°C will temporarily lower economic activity compared to the current emissions-intensive path. So it will get tough before it gets better; 2031 is the year that will be costliest to New Zealand, with GDP at 1.3% lower.

However, if New Zealand stays on track and picks up the pace of decarbonisation, it could be the first country to reap the rewards. The year 2036 is projected to be its turning point, where the economy could grow even more if there is inadequate action. By 2050, GDP could be 2.4% greater, and $64 billion higher overall over 2023 to 2050 than without adequate action, the report says.

Conversely, indecision will incur $4.4 GDP losses between 2023 and 2050 and $48 billion by 2070. At the same time, there could be nearly 3,000 fewer job opportunities by 2050 due to the economic impacts of climate change.

The government has a vital role in assisting the sector’s low-carbon transition. The report states, “Clear and consistent policy direction on climate change and support from both government and the private sector to transition New Zealand’s economy to a low-carbon one are crucial.”

Read the full “Aotearoa New Zealand’s Turning Point” report by clicking the link provided in the “Source” section below.


The role of climate change in extreme rainfall associated with Cyclone Gabrielle over Aotearoa New Zealand’s East Coast. (2023, March 14). World Weather Attribution. Retrieved from

Exclusive poll: After cyclone, do voters want urgency on climate change? (2023, March 15). 1News. Retrieved from

Swift, M. (2023 March 15). Scientists say climate change likely behind the intensity of rainfall from Cyclone Gabrielle. Newshub. Retrieved from

Aotearoa New Zealand’s Turning Point. (2023 March). Deloitte. Retrieved from

Failing to take decisive climate action could shrink economy by $4.4 billion – report. (2023 March 7). RNZ. Retrieved from

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