La Niña could return by year’s end, Climate Council urges governments to prepare

The Bureau of Meteorology has declared La Niña over, for now, however warns there is around a 50% chance it could return by spring.

Dr Simon Bradshaw, the Climate Council’s Director of Research, said:

“La Niña events can be damaging and costly for many Australian communities due to the greater risk of flooding. A third consecutive La Niña could mean continued above average rainfall on an already saturated east coast. The risk of extreme rainfall and flooding is also increasing with climate change.

“The former Federal Government failed to prepare communities for the east coast flooding disaster earlier this year, despite being warned. The new Labor Government must take steps now to get ahead of another potential summer of increased flood risk for these communities. We don’t want to see another situation where communities are left to their own devices. We all hope another La Niña doesn’t eventuate but around a 50% chance – or around double the normal likelihood – should be taken seriously.

“This is a chance to learn from failures of the past. There are 80 recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements that need immediate attention. The previous Government has failed to implement many of them, but this must be a priority for our new Government.

“Australia is under-prepared. Only a very small fraction of disaster spending is committed to preparedness and resilience building. We would expect to see a big shift in this ratio to see a much bigger focus on preparedness given the escalating risk of climate-fuelled disasters.”

Climate Councillor and leader of the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) group, Greg Mullins, added: “With catchments saturated and dams at capacity, another La Niña means we must prepare for more devastating floods. It’s also a double-edged sword – when the rains eventually stop the prolific growth will inevitably fuel large grass fires across the interior, then bushfires as coastal forests dry out. Unprecedented climate driven weather means unprecedented demands on our already stretched emergency services.”

See the Climate Council’s report on how weather events are supercharging flood and rain events.

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