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IAG releases its 2021 climate change poll

June 10, 2021

IAG poll shows Kiwis want government and business to act on climate change adaptation

New Zealanders are increasingly expecting the government and business sector to take stronger action on climate change adaptation, according to the results of IAG’s fourth annual climate change opinion poll released today.

The survey found that 79% of respondents see the government as being responsible for taking action on climate change, up from 65% in 2018. Almost on par with this rise, 71% of respondents now see businesses being responsible for taking action, a rise of 14% since 2018.

The poll highlights concern about the pace and certainty of the response to climate change, with only 23% saying the current response is moving fast enough and 37% confident that New Zealand will be able to reduce the impacts of climate change.

IAG New Zealand sustainability and climate change spokesperson, Bryce Davies says the results show a need for a step change in the country’s response. 

“New Zealanders need to see meaningful action that shows we understand and are reducing the risks posed by our changing climate.”

Yesterday the Government released the final advice from the Climate Change Commission on emission budgets and policy direction.

“The Commission’s final advice is an important milestone but does not change the fact that we have locked in impacts that require us to adapt.  Any delay in meeting our targets will worsen those impacts for current and future generations,” says Mr Davies.

Climate Change Minister, James Shaw welcomes the results of this year’s poll.

“The timing of this survey couldn’t be better. Yesterday we released the final advice from the Climate Change Commission and work is now underway on an Emissions Reduction Plan that will set out how we plan to cut emissions across the economy.  It’s good to see that the vast majority of New Zealanders expect us to take strong action.

“Whilst cutting our emissions is obviously a huge part of what we need to do to create a clean, safe and healthy future for Aotearoa, the climate is already changing and there will be some effects that we cannot avoid. So, in addition to supporting the transition to a low carbon New Zealand, we can also see from this survey that people want us to take action to ensure our communities are made much more resilient to the unavoidable effects of global climate change. That is a priority for us.”

The poll also highlights the difficulty in deciding how New Zealand equitably pays to adapt to a changing climate.  Only 31% of respondents agree that the Government and local authorities

should raise rates and taxes, and only 4% think that the costs to businesses of adapting should be passed on to customers.

It also shows that climate change remains an important issue for 79% of respondents, and their understanding on the expected impacts remains high.  90% think climate change will increase inundation due to sea-level rise; 85% think it will lead to more frequent and intense storms and floods; 88% more frequent and extreme droughts; and 83% more frequent and extreme wildfires.

Victoria University’s Professor James Renwick says, “New Zealanders have a really thorough understanding of how the climate is changing, and to an extent how we are going to have to change with it. There is a clear concern for equity and fairness in how we cover the costs and the damage, and a strong consensus among the public that individuals should not have to foot the bill.”

Mr Davies adds, “as New Zealand’s leading insurer, IAG is committed to working with government, business, and our customers to help New Zealand adapt to the impacts of our changing climate.”

The survey of 1,001 people commissioned by IAG New Zealand and conducted by Ipsos Ltd between 14 to 21 May 2021, has a margin for error of ± (plus or minus) 3.1 per cent

New Zealanders need to see meaningful action to reduce the  risks posed by our changing climate