Impacts

Expected effects of climate change include extreme weather, impacts on the environment and associated economic effects.

Natural environment.

There is growing evidence of the consequences of climate change on the Earth and its ecosystems.

Scientific evidence indicates that these effects will increase and continue to affect the lives of many generations.

Below are some likely impacts.

Impacts on Wellington

A range of impacts including:

  • coastal hazards from sea-level rise and storm-surge events
  • potential difficulty in maintaining water supply in the summer months due to reduced rainfall, higher temperatures and increased demand
  • increasing severity and frequency of major storm events with heavier rainfall and stronger winds, especially on Wellington's South Coast, resulting in:
    • surface flooding and slips 
    • damage and disruption, for example, downed trees, utility faults, and property and roading damage
    • more coastal erosion

Global impacts

  • Rising sea levels threatening coastal settlements and island nations
  • Increasing frequency of major storm events in some areas causing significant damage
  • Increasing air temperatures, more heat waves and severe droughts affecting biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Increasing sea temperatures affecting species and fisheries

National impacts

  • Rising sea levels (estimated at up to 0.8m by 2100) and saltwater intruding into some freshwater sources
  • Increasing intensity and frequency of heat waves, drought and fire risk
  • More floods, landslides, droughts, and storm surges, and less snow and frost
  • Reducing soil moisture in much of eastern New Zealand

Personal impacts

Climate change will impact on many aspects of personal life - environmental, social and economic - and could include:

  • altered ecosystems - habitat loss, species extinction, invasive species, degradation of natural systems
  • water security risk due to drought - threat to irrigated agriculture
  • loss of high value coastal land, road deterioration, and beach degradation
  • risk to major infrastructure - flood protection, urban drainage, sewerage networks, and storm damage to buildings
  • glacier shrinkage and diminishing snow cover - impacting on tourism flows and associated industries
  • eventual pasture production decline in cooler areas - spread of sub-tropical, low-productivity pastures
  • increasing spread of pests and diseases
  • loss of specific conditions needed for particular crops
  • better growth for plantation forestry in the south and west, and less in the east of the North Island, with increased wind damage risk
  • coastal fisheries - habitat changes affecting species distribution
  • increasing cost of disaster insurance cover
  • carbon taxes eg 'food miles' - increased costs of carbon-emitting processes for production, packaging and distribution (transport).

One metre sea level rise scenario