New Zealand at the tipping point for climate change action - Bell Gully

13 May 2021

​The steady diet of climate-related regulation put in place since the 2019 passing of the Zero Carbon Act has started New Zealand on its vital shift toward a lower-carbon economy, according to a report from law firm Bell Gully.

But while it is clear the transition has now begun, upcoming changes look set to prove the tipping point for serious action.

Simon Watt, the partner who leads Bell Gully's climate change practice, said together the introduction of mandatory financial reporting on climate-related risks and the Climate Change Commission's recommended emissions budgets will catalyse business adaptation and spur transition action. Proposed changes to resource management laws, which will involve legislation to address managed retreat and climate adaptation, would also drive change.

Transition action is now urgently needed, he said. “Our response to climate change is the defining issue for this and future generations," he said. “Global emissions are still high, and there is a significant lag before the effects of today's emissions levels are felt. Delay in moving to a low-carbon economy will just mean greater cost – both financial and environmental - later."

The Big Picture: Climate Change – what lies ahead in 2021 outlines the forces driving action both domestically and internationally, from the multitude of countries that have outlined significant climate targets and plans to decarbonise their economies in the past year, to a wave of climate-related litigation and a shift toward sustainable investment.

“We are already seeing businesses and local government bodies engage with their own climate-related risks and expect 2021 to be a year in which many develop plans to address adaptation and action," he said. “The framework for the transition is emerging and the response to that should now be under way,"

The Big Picture: Climate Change – what lies ahead in 2021 can be found here.​