The one in five hundred year flood that recently devastated Townsille – a sign of things to come?

NEW DATA SHOWING THE CLIMATE risk profile of Australian local government areas reveals the dangerous exposure of many regional communities to climate impacts including coastal inundation, bushfires and soil subsidence, says the Cities Power Partnership, Australia’s largest local government climate alliance.

Climate hazard mapping released today by risk profiling firm Climate Risk reveals the highest risk suburbs, where many properties may become very difficult to insure in coming years due to the escalating climate impacts.

See the report at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-23/the-suburbs-facing-rising-insurance-costs-from-climate-risk/11624108

The extent of risk posed to council-held assets is not covered by the report, nor how these risks will be managed at local, State and Federal government levels.

Cities Power Partnership director David Craven says the new data provides much-needed transparency around the serious climate risks facing Australian communities.

“As this new data shows, many Australian communities are incredibly vulnerable to climate impacts, including bushfires, sea-level rise, riverine flooding and property damage caused by soil subsidence. In many areas, people’s homes could soon become effectively uninsurable.”

“With no credible Federal climate policy in sight, this shows why State and local governments need to develop an urgent plan for both adaptation for impacts that are unavoidable, and plans to drive down the greenhouse gas emissions to stop making climate change worse.”

Some councils have expressed concern that without an adequate legal and financial risk exposure framework, local governments may be open to legal challenges from affected property owners. Such challenges could potentially financially cripple smaller councils and rate-payers.

Cr Jess Miller from City of Sydney, who last week brought forward a motion to develop a New South Wales climate risk framework for all levels of government, said that councils need to be able to respond to crucial information about climate risks to residents without leaving themselves open to legal challenges from property owners or developers for affecting the value of their assets.

“People deserve to know about the potential climate dangers to their property, and local governments need to know the risks to develop better regional plans to keep communities safe, and ensure a fair transition for the people who will be most affected. The lack of legal certainty is holding back frank conversations about how to prepare for more frequent and severe weather events,” she said.

“The financial implications of the impacts identified to both private and council-owned property value is important for all members of our communities to understand and prepare for. State-level climate risk frameworks would provide greater transparency and guidance for all levels of government to protect communities from the very real, and alarming climate hazards that lie ahead.”