Extreme weather events associated with climate change are expected to cost the Australian economy a whopping $100 billion annually in the near future, a new report has revealed.
Consequently, the Climate Council warns that extreme weather events will become more common in the Australian day-to-day life in coming decades,.
The overall cost of wild weather in Australia has nearly doubled compared to that of the 1970s, and amounted to $35 billion in the last decade, as revealed by the report released on Wednesday.
The Climate Council noted that the effects of floods, fires, storms, droughts and sea level rise relating to climate change could increase into the future, possibly costing Australia’s economy up to $100 billion each year by 2038.
According to the report’s author Professor Will Steffen, last summer’s Black Summer bushfires was a clear illustration of what happens when the climate hits its “tipping point”.
He added that similar weather events are likely to occur with increased frequency.
“We can’t expect extreme events to increase in a smooth linear fashion, they could jump up at an extremely fast rate at any time, these are the risks we are taking as climate change continues,” Professor Steffen told Storm Assist.
He noted that latest studies have revealed that Aussies were five times more likely to experience physical displacement as a result of climate disasters than their counterparts in Europe.
“But it’s important to note our Pacific Island neighbours face 100 times the displacement risk than Europeans. That displacement risk is only likely to increase for both them and for us,” he said.
In a statement, Dr Robert Glasser, the United Nations Secretary General’s former Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction explained that Australia should now be more concerned about the effects of climate change on the country as well as the region.
“We are also vulnerable because we are right on the doorstep of one of the most populous regions in the world. There are over 400 million people just in maritime Southeast Asia to our north, predominantly in these densely populated low-lying countries that are extremely vulnerable to climate change, sea level rise and storm surge,” he said.
“So their problems are going to cascade and affect our security as a country in this region,”.
Federal government needs to act now
Dr Glassier urged the Australian government to take stronger measures to curb the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, and strongly advocate that other nations do the same.
He added that Australia needs to significantly step up its ability to effectively respond to major climate disasters.
“Australians are very resilient, but what we now need to do is scale it up, take it to another level. Because the sorts of hazards that strike us now and into the future will be record setting, unprecedented fires, storms and floods. We need to move from adaptation to transformation,” he said.
In conclusion, Professor Steffen said that Australia should work towards halving its emissions by 2030 and target to attain net zero emissions by year 2040.
“That’s what we need to do – the science is very clear on that – and a lot of technologies are now coming into place to make those goals feasible. What’s stopping us is ideology, politics and vested interests,” he stated.
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