“New Zealand needs to get real about the costs of the devastating weather patterns of climate change,” said Associate
Minister for the Environment, Phillida Bunkle.
Ms Bunkle was speaking from Perth where she has been attending a high level international Forum on Greenhouse Sinks. The
Forum was made up of representatives from about 30 nations - all of which are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol. All
members agreed that climate change is a global crisis and reaffirmed the need for a global action plan.
“As an island nation, New Zealand is perilously exposed to the effects of unpredictable weather patterns. We have seen
significant increases in the storms, droughts and floods that are consequences of the greenhouse imbalance," Ms Bunkle
"These violent and unpredictable weather patterns are already costing the New Zealand economy through devastating floods
and droughts which also traumatise communities," she said.
"When floods follow drought, as they have on New Zealand's East Coast, the effect is particularly devastating because
the dry soil is washed away. This loss of soil has severe implications for an economy based on primary production.
“This is a challenge for all New Zealanders. Our children’s future depends on what we do now about energy use,
conservation, planting, forest restoration and retaining valuable top soils.
"The Government is already developing measures to improve energy efficiency. And rather than waiting for the rest of the
world to change, every New Zealander can contribute now to the effort in addressing this global crisis.
"Representatives from other countries at the Forum spoke to me about the effects of climate instability. In those
countries, the loss of topsoil and the salination of waterways is destroying agricultural production.
New Zealand needs to sit up and take note because economies dependent on primary production will be hit hardest. Our
agricultural sector is the most at risk from climate change and I urge this sector to be energetic in protecting its
"Here in Western Australia 10% of agricultural lands have become unusable already. The primary production sector must
consider these problems and find solutions for their own sakes.
“By developing policy the Government can begin the process. But the difficult part - changing behaviour – must come from
the community,” said Phillida Bunkle.