With so many crises occupying the limelight you may have missed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) anticipated release of the second part of its Sixth Assessment Report. It includes a chapter dedicated specifically to Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand and focuses on preparing ourselves for the future.

Read the chapter on Australasia.

Access the full report.

Whereas the first part of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report focused on the science of how our planet is changing, the second part titled “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” provides a more applied analysis of what this all means for ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at global and regional levels. There are two more parts to come in future.

Australia and New Zealand are unique among the world's countries in having a whole 151-page chapter dedicated to them. The Coordinating Lead Author for New Zealand is Dr Judy Lawrence, who is a Commissioner at He Pou a Rangi Climate Change Commission.

The release of the report coincided with catastrophic flooding in south-eastern Queensland and northern New South Wales which has been dubbed a “one-in-a-thousand-year event” with a death toll that has now climbed to 23 people.

In many ways this second part of the Report is more compelling than the first. Grand promises of how the world will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions were progressively whittled down during the course of two weeks at COP26 in Glasgow last year. Global emissions have so far risen each year for many decades and it seems possible that despite the promises at COP26 that this will in fact continue into the future. It is therefore reasonable to expect a lot more adverse impacts "cascading and compounding" as the report says. While this does not mean Aotearoa New Zealand should forget about reducing its share of global emissions, it does mean that with so much change coming our way, that we should focus much more attention on adaptation. This latest report will therefore be of interest to communities and councils across the country.

The Government already has signalled that current Ministry for the Environment work, guidance and funding sources pertaining to climate change adaptation and local government will be developed further/overhauled in a Climate Change Adaptation Act. This is the third of three pieces of legislation that will replace the Resource Management Act, the others being the Natural and Built Environments Act and the Strategic Planning Act.