THE COST of extreme weather in Australia has more than doubled since the 1970s, and totalled $35 billion over the past decade, a new Climate Council report has found.
The Climate Council’s report is called Hitting Home: The Compounding Costs of Climate Inaction.
“There is no doubt that we have entered an era of consequences arising from decades of climate inaction and delay,” said lead author and Climate Council spokesman, Professor Will Steffen.
“And it is going to get worse. By 2038, extreme weather events driven by climate change, as well as the impacts of sea-level rise, could cost the Australian economy $100 billion every year,” said Professor Steffen.
For Australia, the devastating Black Summer fires, a crippling drought, and yet another mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef highlight our acute vulnerability to climate impacts.
“Australians are five times more likely to be displaced by a climate change-fuelled disaster than someone living in Europe. In the Pacific, that risk is 100 times higher,” said Professor Steffen.
“The regional impacts of climate change will profoundly undermine Australia’s national security. Unlike most other wealthy countries, Australia is in a region with many densely populated, near-neighbour, developing countries that are highly vulnerable to climate change,” said the former United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Dr Robert Glasser.
REPORT KEY FINDINGS
- The latest science projects that by 2100 annual deaths from extreme heat worldwide will outstrip all COVID-19 deaths recorded in 2020.
- In 2019-20, we ushered in a new and dangerous era of megafires that ravaged Australia, Brazil, Siberia and the US West Coast.
- We are on track to eliminate all of Australia’s and the world’s tropical coral reefs.
- Climate-related hazards have affected six times more people in the Asia-Pacific than in the rest of the world combined.
- Ignoring climate change is deadly. Australians are now paying the price for our own and the world’s failure to reduce emissions quickly enough or deeply enough.
- We need bold, concerted action across all levels of government, business, industry and community to reduce Australia’s emissions to net zero as soon as possible and prepare for worsening extreme weather events.
“Because many climate impacts are already locked-in, we must learn to live in a new era of drought, floods, and megafires. It’s equally clear that far greater dangers lie ahead if we fail to act with the urgency and determination that the science demands,” said Dr Glasser.
“No developed country has more to lose from climate change-fuelled extreme weather, or more to gain as the world transforms to a zero-carbon economy, than Australia does,” said Professor Will Steffen.
Over the coming decade, Australia must aim to at least halve its emissions, and reach net zero by 2040 at the latest.