Mayors urge rapid climate change action as new report shows damage to agriculture, property sectors

Urgent action on climate change must be the incoming federal government’s priority, 15 mayors from across Australia said in a joint statement released 8 May.

They demanded greater Federal support for local projects on climate change, a commitment to a 100% renewable energy target, and a rapid phase out of fossil fuels.

Their statement came as a new report from the Climate Council, Compound Costs: How Climate Change is Damaging Australia’s Economy, outlined how climate change will cause insurance and commodity costs to rise and property values to fall, and which local government areas will be worst hit.

The 15 mayors are part of Cities Power Partnership, Australia’s largest local government climate alliance whose members come from more than 100 local government areas, which is run by the Climate Council, a climate change communications organisation.

“At the local level we’re working with our communities and with each other to develop a strong climate response, and to support Australia’s shift to clean energy,” the mayors’ statement said.

“All tiers of government have a role to play in driving down Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution, and we need swift action at the Federal level to address our escalating national emissions.”

Priorities 5 and 6 in ALGA’s 2019 Federal Election Initiatives call for action to protect communities from the impacts of natural disasters, and support communities with their climate change responses.

“This election, the conversation we should be having is about the devastating costs of not taking climate action,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“By stoking fear and ignoring the science, our federal parliamentarians are distracting voters from the inarguable truth – that without urgent, coordinated, and global action to reduce emissions and shift to renewable energy, we will trigger runaway climate change.

“Together with Mayors from across Australia, I call on the next Federal Government to support us to better tackle climate change, and to adopt a higher renewable energy target, introduce mandatory disclosure of building energy ratings, and overhaul the National Building Code.”

Mayor of regional Victoria’s Strathbogie Shire, Cr Amanda McClaren, said climate-change driven extreme weather, such as the record heat waves over summer, are challenging local councils’ ability to respond now.

“We’re already feeling the impacts, from droughts to extreme heatwaves, and our residents are suffering,” she said.

“In order to effectively prepare our towns and cities for a changing climate we need more resources and targeted policy from the Federal Government supporting local clean energy and climate solutions to safeguard the future of our communities.”

Meanwhile, the Climate Council’s Compound Costs report has outlined which Local Government Areas will be worst affected, ranked by properties unable to be insured, should greenhouse gas emissions continue rising.

They are: Moree Plains (NSW, flood; soil), Swan Hill (VIC, flood), Gold Coast (QLD, flood; inundation), Mid Murray (SA, flood; inundation), Northern Midlands (TAS, flood), Upper Gascoyne (WA, flood; bushfire) and Roper Gulf (NT, flood; soil).

The study also said about one in every 19 properties could have “effectively unaffordable insurance premiums” by 2030 because it will cost 1% or more of the property value per year.

Over that same period, climate change and extreme weather could cause Australia’s property market to shed $571 billion in value, and more in the coming decades unless emissions were cut.

“More than $226 billion in commercial, industrial, road, rail, and residential assets will be at risk from sea level rise alone by 2100, if greenhouse gas emissions continue at high levels,” the study added.

Climate Change is one of the issues that will be debated at this year’s National General Assembly. Along with recycling, this issue generated the highest number of motions for debate.