Wealth in the natural environment refers to all aspects of the natural environment needed to support life and human activity, and is valued for spiritual, cultural, and economic reasons.
Most people in New Zealand continue to enjoy a high level of environmental quality. However, some long-standing issues persist. In Environment Aotearoa 2022, the Ministry for the Environment reports that there are multiple environmental issues facing New Zealand, such as land-use change, invasive species, and pollution. While New Zealand’s air quality continues to improve, freshwater sources are being degraded in areas transformed by human activities. These issues put pressure on environmental wellbeing as well as individual and national wealth.
Environment Aotearoa 2022 also highlights the complex impacts of climate change on our natural environment, especially our marine environments through ocean acidification and increased sea surface temperatures. Rainfall patterns are also changing, and short-term drought frequency is increasing, threatening native ecosystems and agricultural production.
The Climate Economic and Fiscal Assessment (CEFA) report from the Treasury and the Ministry for the Environment, published in April this year, summarises what we currently know about the potential economic and fiscal impacts of climate change for Aotearoa New Zealand, based on available evidence. It shows that the costs of climate change will be large and felt unevenly across different sectors and groups, and that the choices made by governments, businesses, and households will all influence how the impacts of climate change play out.