NEW REPORT: NSW Takes Massive Financial Hit From Climate Change

Climate Council

NEW REPORT: NSW Takes Massive Financial Hit From Climate Change

A NEW REPORT from the Climate Council has found that climate-driven extreme weather disasters have cost New South Wales $9 billion in the past decade, and it is only going to get worse.

The Hitting Home: The Compounding Costs of Climate Inaction report says all the types of extreme weather events that affected NSW in 2020—bushfires, heatwaves, drought, storms, coastal erosion, and flooding—will worsen due to climate change.

“New South Wales has suffered great economic damage from climate-driven extreme weather disasters over the last decade, and on a per person basis were around double those in Victoria and quadruple those in Tasmania,” 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 issues like sea level rise, could cost the Australian economy $100 billion every year,” he said.


  • NSW communities like the Hunter are exposed to economic risks as countries that have historically bought a large share of our fossil fuel exports are now committed to net zero emissions by around mid-century.

  • Climate change is increasing fire danger across NSW, including in ancient Gondwana rainforests, which were previously considered too wet to burn, but were razed during Black Summer.

  • ‘Flash droughts’ are a newly recognised phenomenon affecting NSW—a sudden onset and rapid intensification of drought conditions over a period of weeks or months.

Simon Richardson, Mayor of Byron Shire Council, said: “Last year, Byron was slammed by floods, bushfires, storm, drought and coastal erosion. These events have cost our council and the community millions, and hammered our billion dollar a year tourism industry.

“We can no longer leave it to our vulnerable communities and local governments to spend millions to fix the damages of inaction.

“The Federal Government must act urgently to phase out fossil fuels and instead invest in clean industries that create regional jobs and protect communities like mine from costly and deadly climate shocks,” said Cr Richardson.

Peter Dunn, Conjola resident and former Commissioner of the ACT Emergency Services Authority, said: “Conjola, along with many other NSW communities bore the brunt of extreme weather in 2020, enduring drought, devastating bushfires, and destructive floods.

“People died, lost their homes, and saw their businesses affected by these climate-driven extreme weather events. Taking strong climate action is essential for the safety and survival of regional NSW communities,” said Mr Dunn.

Over the coming decade, Australia must aim to at least halve its emissions, and reach net zero emissions by 2040 at the latest.

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