Councils across NSW and Queensland are fed-up by the lack of climate action from the Morrison and state governments and have banded together to demand urgent change.
Seventeen mayors and councillors from Shellharbour, south of Wollongong, to Port Douglas, in the Sunshine State’s far north, have joined forces to send a message to Canberra, declaring “extreme weather is hurting Australia and our communities are paying the price”.
The local government areas stretch along the nation’s east coast and have been particularly exposed to devastating bushfires and destructive storm events in recent years.
“We are exhausted by the immediate costs and challenges, and we are worried about what’s to come,” the group’s statement declares.
“Extreme weather disasters used to occur every few years. Now, we are facing them every few months.”
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The plea for help follows a recent report from the Climate Council in which the leading independent body declared the cost of extreme weather on the Australian economy over the past decade totalled $35 billion, with Queensland copping the majority share at $18 billion.
“We can’t do this alone,” the group of concerned councils said.
“We need more support from the federal government to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in clean industries that create regional jobs, unlock business investment and spur technological innovation.”
Noosa Shire Councillor Brian Stockwell called on both the Morrison and Palaszczuk governments to listen to the urgent fears and present danger for local communities.
The tourist hot spot is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and storm damage while the warming climate has also increased the fire risk with the popular Sunshine Coast resort area the first of hundreds engulfed in flames during the previous summer.
“The one we’re experiencing already is our early summers and springs are much hotter and much drier,” he told the NCA NewsWire.
“We were the first to have a catastrophic fire event in the 2019/20 season, but it also carries across to us having an ageing population and it’s predicted deaths from extreme heat and climate change will exceed what we experienced last year from COVID by 2100.
“These are significant issues and local governments can address them through practical measures right now.”
Mr Stockwell said the federal government had failed to offer a meaningful response to the present threat with a “business as usual approach to dealing with the fossil fuel industry and ignoring the need to convert our economy to a green economy”.
“We saw the debacle of gas being a preferred option identified by the federal government whereas it‘s really clear that new solar power on large farms are far more cost effective at the moment compared to new coal fired electricity.”
Communities across Australia have clearly had enough of the growing cost of extreme weather disasters, Climate Council researcher Dr Simon Bradshaw said.
“All types of extreme weather events — storms, coastal erosion, flooding, bushfires, heatwaves and drought — are influenced by climate change,” he said.
“Australian communities are already paying the price, with the past twelve months seeing a devastating run of extreme weather disasters.”
“Extreme weather has cost our national economy at least $35 billion over the past decade. And it’s going to get worse — by 2038, the price tag of climate impacts could climb to $100 billion a year.”
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