Risks and Opportunities

  

What is at risk in Otago?

A change in climate brings with it risks and opportunities to both our natural environment and our urban environment. We all need to consider these when planning for our future.

Our natural environment:

  • Ocean
    • Our oceans absorb heat and expand, causing sea-level rise. Melting glaciers and polar ice sheets add to this.
    • Acidification is a decrease in the pH level caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • Coast
    • Sea-level rise
    • Coastal erosion
    • Changes to groundwater levels and saline intrusion where saltwater enters freshwater aquifers
    • Disruption to the ecology of our inter-tidal areas. We will see all these areas competing for space with existing urban infrastructure and properties
  • Biodiversity and biosecurity
    • We could see an increase in pest plants and animals to the area and our native species may have to migrate or struggle to survive in the changing conditions
  • Ecosystems
  • Freshwater resources
  • Air quality

   

Our urban environment:

  • Flood protection and drainage schemes
  • Infrastructure
  • Homes

   

Our society and culture:

  • Recreational activities
  • Communities
  • Social well-being
  • Historic heritage
  • Public health

   

Our economy:

  • Tourism
  • Business (production, manufacturing, retail)
  • Primary industries (agriculture, farming, forestry, horticulture)

 

What opportunities are there?

As a nation we are generally optimistic and resourceful, so we’re also thinking about what opportunities may arise out of climate change and how we could adapt in our region. Some examples could look like the following:

  • Diversification in primary industries as new crops can potentially grow
  • Ecosystem changes; expansion of the ranges of some habitats
  • Opportunities to improve services, redevelop urban environments, re-establish natural habitats
  • Innovation and new development, creating new jobs
  • Cost savings from embedding long-term climate change considerations into future planning decisions and reducing the need for major retrofitting or land-use changes
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