Budget reflections – published 18 May 2023

The emissions reduction initiatives are largely continuing to support our emerging business as usual – expanding programmes such as EV charging and warmer homes – and testing a few other options already becoming the norm elsewhere, such as community-scales renewables. These are already in our national plan and could be enough to keep us on our current policy settings pathway (already leading globally to at least 2 degrees Celsius) but there’s an absence of new projects that will really shift the dial on our greenhouse gases, help direct us to a brighter future or provide regional leadership.

This Budget does provide a few glimmers of long-term adaptation hope, mostly in areas where action is long overdue and committed to in last year’s National Adaptation Plan – such as the establishment of national data and information for climate risks and resilience planning.

But the follow through is where the real work is obviously still to be done. While this Budget should enable recovery to continue and build-in some resilience-thinking, it relies on a climate that will stay settled and calm – not just long enough for us to get this work done, but also to extend the resilience approach to the rest of the country. My worry is that, like the proverbial frog, we are now floating in a rapidly warming ocean that will not cool down long enough for us to escape an escalating cycle of disaster and recovery.

Sarah Bogle

Director, Sustainable Value

KPMG in New Zealand


We must feel the immediacy of climate change risks and act accordingly – published 9 May 2023

It’s much easier to respond to a risk when it’s about to eat you. This is a fundamental truth of human psychological evolution; and part of the reason we’re so bad at responding proactively to climate change and investing in resilience

Of course, climate change, even when it is affecting our weather, our ecosystems, our supply chains, our diet and mental health, right now, still feels like a problem one step removed, rather than the jaws about to close around our neck. Cyclone Gabrielle was only the most recent in a series of extreme weather events that attribution scientists have confirmed as unlikely to have occurred without the levels of greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere. For many of us, those lesser events (like weather damage resulting in insurance pay-outs of over $130M, just in 2021) simply didn’t connect to our contribution to global heating or our lack of investment in resilience and adaptation.

So how can the 2023 Budget and actions of our leaders make businesses, communities and individuals feel the immediacy of climate change risks as truly the emergency that many of our national and local elected bodies have declared? And can it be made just threatening enough to enable emissions reductions and adaptation responses, but not so dire that we freeze into hopelessness?

One method for managing this very human difficulty with playing our part in supporting and driving complex, transformational change, is to create certainty wherever possible. This means leveraging the advice of non-political structures we have put in place like the Climate Change Commission, the business clusters such as the Climate Leaders Coalition and the community grass-roots members stepping up to take part in local adaptation planning initiatives. Lean on these groups that were either deliberately put in place to extend the planning horizon or have evolved to fill an urgent niche, that can provide exemplars for how we can collectively identify, plan and deliver long-term programmes of work.

What we can all do is try to keep the politics of climate change away from the science, away from the business and away from the communities. We can create the certainty that we, as all too human actors, need to lean on - through consistency of understanding, analysis and response.

What we do need, however, are the provisions and impetus to sustain this certainty. If the 2023 Budget, and the policies that will be announced ahead of this year’s elections, don’t address long term decisions to ensure we can stay the course – then perhaps our business leaders can step up and provide the certainty they have been requesting from successive governments.

Climate change risks will continue to increase, as global surface temperatures rise and (if the past is anything to go by) as we grow our understanding of exacerbating cascading impacts and thresholds for irreversible change. We need to build robust institutions, systems and settings that facilitate flexibility and allow for local and regional variations. We need to establish mechanisms for rapid sharing of information and embedding learnings. As we move into the future, awful events like Gabrielle are increasingly likely. They will drive greater urgency and provide opportunities to accelerate the pace of change.

But we mustn’t allow them to distract our attention from the long game. Rapid reinstatement is going to be needed at times to ensure we can maintain wellbeing and drive the economics needed to fund longer-term resilience. However, to focus on quick fixes to the exclusion of real emissions reductions and dynamic adaptation would be a mistake that our species might not survive to regret.

About the author

Sarah Bogle is a Director in KPMG’s Sustainable Value team. She draws on over 30 years' experience of programme leadership and values-driven transformation to help organisations explore the opportunities and challenges of climate change and journey to carbon-zero while enabling sustainable, planned adaptation and responses. Prior to joining KPMG she led the adaptation work programme for Waka Kotahi, developed guidance for NZ government policymakers, and was a member of the National Adaptation Plan working group.

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