Moreland joins Australian Mayors call for more Disaster support to Local Councils by Federal Government

March 24, 2022 at 7:44 pm 1 comment

The South East Queensland Floods, northern NSW Floods and flooding in Sydney suburbs have been a wake up call similar to the Black Summer Bushfires in 2019/2020. The Lismore CBD was decimated by the record floods this year. Extensive Flooding in Lismore has ocurred in 3 of the last 5 years. 1 in 100 year floods

Moreland Mayor Mark Riley joined 30 other Mayors and Councillors from around Australia, including the Lord Mayors of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart, in signing the statement. Citizens can add their support by adding their name: Climate Council: add your name to stand with Local Leaders.

“Heavy rain, flooding, strong winds and storm surges are damaging communities, endangering residents, and costing millions of dollars in clean-up costs. In some regions schools and businesses have been forced to close, the lights have gone out, roads cut off, access to fresh water and food limited and thousands of homes destroyed. Many can no longer afford insurance and will be left with little.”

Statement of Mayors. Full statement and all the Mayor and Councilor signatories (PDF)

The Mayors statement highlighted the recent IPCC report that said extreme weather events are becoming more intense and frequent driven by climate change. The Window of opportunity for taking meaningful action with mitigation and adaptation is closing quicky. The UN Secretary General described the IPCC climate report as “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.”

It is estimated that Local and Shire Councils manage 25 percent of Australia’s public assets, yet only have about 5 percent of the public revenues. Local Councils have local adaptation plans but have not been adequately funded to implement them. Damages from disasters often fall substantially on ight Council budgets.

“The cost of extreme weather disasters in Australia has more than doubled since the 1970s. If we don’t take urgent action, floods could cost us $40 billion per year by 2060.¹ We are among the sunniest and windiest countries on earth. We have the natural resources to become a world leader in renewable energies like solar and wind, and can create hundreds of thousands of jobs along the way. Local governments are working together with their communities to take action against climate change and build resilience. But we need more support.”

Statement of Mayors

The Mayors called for the following actions by the Federal Government:

  • a. Lead the country in delivering on an ambitious emissions reduction target this decade, in partnership with state and local governments, to respond to accelerating climate change at the scale and pace required.
  • b. Increase funding sources to councils for responding to climate impacts, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions, including providing a minimum of $200 million a year in the form of a disaster mitigation fund and an additional $200 million over four years for a local government climate response partnership.
  • c. Invest in preparing before climate disasters strike and take responsibility for coordination of climate impact responses to ensure consistency and clearly delineated responsibilities between different levels of government.
  • d. Ensure all disaster response funding extends to all damaged assets and incorporates the principle of “betterment” to allow cities and communities to be rebuilt in a way that takes into account the inevitable future changes in climate and makes them more resilient.
  • e. Establish a national body, or expand the remit of an existing one, to support research on adaptation and act as a centralised hub for up-to-date climate change information.

More frequent disasters for SE Queensland, Northern NSW, Brisbane & Melbourne

The Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities had Deloitte Access Economics produce a Special report: Update to the economic costs of natural disasters in Australia in 2021. The report outlined the present and projected future costs of disasters. “Natural disasters cost the Australian economy $38 billion per year on average, representing approximately 2% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020. Even under a low emissions scenario – whereby timely action will see emissions start to fall and reach zero by 2100 – this cost will rise to at least $73 billion annually by 2060, or 4% of Australia’s GDP in 2020.”

For the High emissions scenario (which we are currently on), ” By 2060 costs reach $94 billion, representing a 29% increase relative to the low emissions scenario.”

The Deloitte report also identifies that SE Queensland, Northern Rivers of NSW, Brisbane and Melbourne are particularly susceptible to more frequent disasters:

“Using new data which reports damage costs at a more granular level, this report finds that coastal population centres in South East Queensland and North East NSW will experience some of the highest increases in costs as they become more exposed to tropical cyclones and floods, as warming oceans enable tropical cyclones to move further south.

Costs in Melbourne and Brisbane will also increase significantly, as major rivers in these cities alongside growing populations will lead to greater costs associated with flooding for Melbourne and tropical cyclones and floods for Brisbane.”

Deloitte Access Economics: Special report: Update to the economic costs of natural disasters in Australia (2021)

Climate Damages Levy on Fossil Fuel exports could raise $1.5 billion per year

Climate Action Moreland Convenor John Englart asked a question about improving funding for Councils to support there climate mitigation and adaptation work in an Australia Institute Webinar on 23 March 2022 which featured Richie Merzian, Head of Climate and Energy at the Australia Institute, and Retired Admiral Chris Barrie, former Head of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and a member of Australian Security Leaders Climate Group.

Question: Many municipal and shire councils are pro-active in building community resilience and adaptation to climate disasters and climate mitigation but on very limited budgets. Should they be funded by other levels of government to support their work in this area perhaps as part of a national climate adaptation plan?

Richie Merzian: “The local government association have raised this. They are responsible for something like 25 percent of public assets but only really pull in 5 percent of revenue. So they have this huge responsibility with very little resources to respond to it. 

They are called on as the first port of call as they are there closest to those who live in the area that are feeling these impacts and they want to best respond. So there is this disparity and we’ve seen a lot of interest, we’ve seen Mayors come out in support of this Climate Disaster Levy. 

If we can find a way to tax polluters for the pollution they are causing, for the climate change they are causing, then the first area we should fund is local government responses, both to the impact, but then to help with their preparedness. That would be the best way to use that money we raise taxing fossil fuel exports and feeding it back into local governments.”

Chris Barrie: “Of course local governments are about local communities. Its communities that are affected by the impacts of climate change. That is why it is really important. I happen to know because I work with someone who did a lot of the climate adaptation plans for local government authorities. Every local government authority in Australia has a climate change adaptation plan. When I have been involved and asked them how they are getting on with it: the plan sits on a piece of paper, it lacks funding as Richie has just pointed out. 

Just as we are saying we need a new approach to deal with the risks of climate change, it just seems to me we have also got to think about innovation and change when it comes to how we fund some of these things. You can’t simply say to the rate payers of a shire or a council: ‘You guys are going to have to pay for all this.’ 

There has to be a different way. Maybe this approach to have a levy is one of them, but there may be other avenues. Fundamentally, its going to come down to how we set the priorities for what we want to do after the next election.”

A Climate for Leadership: how Australia should respond to increasing disasters with retired Admiral Chris Barrie | Webinar

Moreland Council voted unanimously to advocate for a Climate Disaster Levy on Fossil Fuels at Moreland Council meeting in March 2021.

National polling supports establishment of a National Climate Adaptation Plan and a Climate Disaster Fund

New polling conducted by the Australia Institute in early March found that “The vast majority of Australians (72%) want new Federal government policies to help understand and prepare for climate change impacts, including a national climate risk assessment, a National Adaptation Plan and a National Climate Disaster Fund, finds new polling from the Australia Institute.”

The polling found that:

  • Nearly three in four Australians (74%) agree that the federal government should develop a National Adaptation Plan, compared to 12% who disagree.
    • The majority of Australians across all voting intentions agree the Government should develop such a Plan: Coalition 71% agree, 13% disagree; Labor 81% agree, 8% disagree; Greens 83% agree, 6% disagree; PHON 54% agree, 30% disagree; independent/other 63% agree, 15% disagree.
  • 72% of Australians agree that the Commonwealth government should undertake a national risk assessment, 21% disagree.
    • The majority of Australians across all voting intentions agree the Government should undertake a national risk assessment: Coalition 67% agree, 24% disagree; Labor 79% agree, 14% disagree; Greens 83% agree, 15% disagree; PHON 52% agree, 39% disagree; independent/other 61% agree, 24% disagree.
  • The vast majority of Australians (70%) agree that climate change is contributing to more frequent and more extreme weather events like floods and bushfires, compared with less than a quarter (23%) who disagree.
  • The majority of Australians (67%) support the creation of a National Climate Disaster Fund to support communities affected by flood and bushfires, paid for by a levy on fossil fuel exports.
  • The majority of Australians (55%) do not believe the Commonwealth Government has done enough to prepare for the impacts of climate change, compared to 37% who agree.
Poll: public supports National Risk Assessment
Poll: Public supports establishment of a National Climate Adaptation Plan
Poll: Public support for a Climate Disaster Fund

References:

Entry filed under: climate change info, Climate Emergency, Moreland Council, news. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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