New Report Finds Coastal Communities At Risk From Climate Change

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14th November 2009, 03:14pm - Views: 693

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PW  330/09 

14 November 2009



A new report mapping the impacts of climate change on Australia’s coastal communities has been

released today by the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong.

The report – Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coasts – is the first continental scale mapping of

residential buildings at risk from climate change. It also details the risks to coastal infrastructure,

services and industry in Australia as a result of climate change. 

Senator Wong said many coastal communities were vulnerable to impacts such as sea inundation

and erosion. The report shows between 157,000 to 247,600 existing residential buildings will be at

risk from sea inundation by 2100, under a sea-level rise scenario of 1.1m.

“This report paints a picture of the widespread impacts of climate change on Australia’s coastlines,

and the risks posed to buildings located in coastal areas,’’ Senator Wong said.

“The science tells us our climate is changing faster than first projected and the impacts are likely to

be more severe as sea-level rises and extreme storms and floods become more frequent.

“These changes are already happening and we cannot afford to ignore the findings of this report.’’

Major coastal infrastructure that underpins our economy, such as airports and ports, will also be at

risk from climate change, the report shows.

“Sea-level rise, more intense cyclones and ocean acidification will potentially increase the capital

and operating costs of ports quite significantly by mid century,’’ Senator Wong said.

“A number of airports are also located in low-lying areas in the coastal zone, and are at risk of

inundation in the coming century.’’

Senator Wong said the report showed the need to address and start planning for the impacts of

climate change.

“Every day we delay action on climate change, we increase the cost,’’ Senator Wong said.

“This report shows the need to reduce the carbon pollution that is causing climate change, which is

why we are determined to pass the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

“It also shows that Australia must plan to adapt to the climate change we can’t avoid.’’

Senator Wong announced the creation of a seven-member Coasts and Climate Change Council

(membership list attached), to be chaired by Professor Tim Flannery.

The Council will engage with the community and stakeholders and advise the Government in the

lead up to a Coastal Climate Change Forum, to be held in early 2010. This Forum will bring

together all levels of government to develop a strategy for coastal adaptation.

People Feature Department Of Climate Change 2 image

Professor Flannery said the report showed the extent of the climate change challenge facing

Australia, and the need for all levels of government to take action now. 

“Our coasts are already being impacted by climate change,” Professor Flannery said.

“We can no longer ignore the need to reduce emissions and manage the challenges that climate

change poses to our way of life.”

“This report highlights the need for planned, coordinated action to help manage the risks,’’ Senator

Wong said.

“State and local governments, business and communities will all need to play a major part to

prepare for unavoidable climate change impacts.’’

Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coasts – A First Pass Assessment is available from the

Media Contact:

Laura Anderson 

0411 143 111



Chairman, Professor Tim Flannery – Faculty of Science, Macquarie University 

Ms Sam Mostyn – expert in sustainability and risk management

Mr Ron Clarke – Mayor of Gold Coast

Ms Paddi Creevey – Mayor of Mandurah

Professor Barbara Norman – Foundation Chair, Professor of Urban Planning, Faculty of Business and

Government, University of Canberra 

Professor Bruce Thom – President, Australian Coastal Society

Geoff Lake – President, Australian Local Government Association

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