Climate change compensation

an unavoidable discussion


  • Benjamin Dudley Tombs
  • Ben France-Hudson



Climate change will cause significant loss and damage throughout New Zealand. This will affect everyone. When considering the options for responding, compensation will inevitably be raised, as either a requirement or a policy choice. Many people, however, appear reticent to engage with ‘compensation’ either as a word or as a concept; preferring to avoid it altogether. This article argues that compensation will be an unavoidable part of the discussion about how best to respond to the challenges of climate change. It is an integral aspect of the law of compulsory acquisition and the Public Works Act. It sits in the background to both legal and popular understandings of other statutory regimes such as the Biosecurity and Earthquake Commission Acts. This article explores the ramifications of this observation from a legal perspective and suggests that careful thought should be given, as soon as possible, to the development of a principled approach to compensation for climate change loss and damage.


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