Climate change and urban impacts


Developing a science-based approach for Central and Local Government to identify opportunities for reducing the impacts of climate change on the urban environment.

The problem

Up until now, most local governments in New Zealand have focused on identifying potential impacts of climate change, but not on how to adapt to these impacts.

Around 75% of the $1.5 billion insurance payout for damages from natural hazards in New Zealand over the last 40 years (prior to the Canterbury earthquakes) was for weather related hazards. These risks are expected to increase in future because of climate change, perhaps greatly so if international efforts to reduce greenhouse gases are poor. As such, our work will generate substantial economic benefits in the future if we can minimise that damage.

New Zealand needs communities that are resilient to changes in climate and the hazards that come with it. Urban environments are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather (storms, droughts) and flooding events (sea level rise) and so this project was directed to work out how to reduce the harm caused by these potential changes.

The approach

This research programme will help central and local government identify opportunities and reduce the impacts of climate change on urban and built environment and infrastructure. We have used a science-based risk assessment process for and identifying hazards, risks and adaptation options.

The outcome

The work on this project was completed in 2012 and has produced the Climate Change and Urban Impacts Toolbox.

Go to the Climate Change and Urban Impacts Toolbox

NIWA Contacts

Chief Scientist - Climate, Atmosphere and Hazards
Principal Scientist - Natural Hazards and Hydrodynamics
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Urban Aquatic Scientist
Chief Scientist - Coasts and Estuaries
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Hazards Analyst
Page last updated: 
18 July 2021
Climate change affects urban environments. [NIWA]