Coastal flooding due to climate change could put homes, business and roads worth $226 billion at risk, a new report suggests.

The Climate Council released its latest report - Growing Risks, Critical Choices - which details the impact of climate change on health, property, farming and ecosystems.

Based on a 1.1 metre sea level rise - the highest range of projections - about 250,000 coastal homes, $87 billion in commercial buildings and $67 billion in roads and rail could be at risk.

Even with a much smaller rise, of about 50cm, the report suggests a coastal flooding event in southeast Queensland alone could cause $4 billion in damage to homes.

Deaths from heatwaves in Australian cities are projected to double over the next four decades.

And a rise in drought frequency is estimated to cost $7.3 billion a year from 2020.

Even with rapid and deep cuts to carbon emissions, by the end of the century annual average temperatures were expected to rise 1.2C to 2.3C above pre-industrial levels, but 3.4C to 5.7C under a business-as-usual scenario.

Scientists now believe that a 2C target - which Australia is committed to - should no longer be considered a "safe" level of climate change.

National governments should instead aim for 1.5C.

"With just 0.85C of warming globally we have already witnessed adverse consequences," the report said.

The report concludes that the globe must "almost completely decarbonise" within three decades to effectively tackle climate change.

"A low or no-carbon future ... is healthier, more resilient, more equitable, and more economically viable than a business-as-usual future," the report says.

The Abbott government has announced a goal to cut emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 - lower than the Climate Change Authority's proposal of 45-65 per cent.

But even the council's more ambitious proposal, the report said, should be seen as a bare minimum to avoid a 2C rise.

  • The last time Australia bent to predictions of imminent disaster, we spent over 5 billion $AUD on desalination plants around Australia. Not one is currently being used, and should they be required in a drought, they shall require another 5 billion $AUD to replace rusted parts and wiring. Can the Climate Change please explain how they have determined that pacific islands are sinking? Coral Sea atoll islands have been sinking for thousands of years due to tectonic movement, they are sinking. Sea levels are not rising. After a recent earthquake and movement of tectonic plates off Indonesia many smaller islands were lifted by 2 m on one side and sank by 2m on the other. The evidence we are entering a mini ice age, and the level of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic is increasing. Like the central NSW wales coast, the council created fear around rising sea levels, then the proponents went and bought the real estate up cheaply, a cynical episode indicative of what they really thought about sea level rises. Tidal surges, Tsunami and earthquakes occur in unexpected intervals and this fear mongering should not be allowed in public institutions by people who are feathering their own nests.

    • Spork – I just hope your tinfoil hat provides you with sufficient protection against the extreme weather events we're about to witness in future.

    • Jana, you forgot to finish with Amen after all global warming is a religion and is as real as god is!

    • Not one desal plant in Australia is currently being used? You might be a bit east coast centric, Grant. Both plants in WA are well and truly operating, fortunately, as the rainfall over the last 20 years in the South West (of WA) is down 40% compared to records since settlement. Dam levels are at record lows even with desal water being pumped into them.
      Self interest will always support the status quo. Why not, when "externalities" = code for I cause – you pay, don't show up in your bottom line. Carbon certificate trading is the outworking of those externalities and if ramped slowly provides the incentive to be innovative and develop new business and employment. It also contains a massive disincentive to starting a long term carbon intensive venture as future pain is guaranteed when the certificate withdrawal screws tighten. While well meaning, the Greens step change philosophy, just gives the climate dinosaurs ammunition to resist, as well as a smoke screen for their political donations pouring in to quarantine those externalities.
      Heading towards zero carbon is an insurance policy for our descendants and if it isn't needed, at least the air they breathe will be cleaner.

  • How much has the earths temperature risen in the last 17 years?

    Why not listen to someone that knows his stuff Dr Roy Spencer Climatologist, author and former NASA scientist

    What was it Flannery said 10 years ago, "even the rains that will will not be enough to fill our river systems"? That was total BS.

  • There is just one major influence on the Earth's climate… its called the Sun. As it goes through its cycles – which are millennia long – so too does the Earth go through climate change cycles. Other significant influences have included meteorites, volcanic eruptions and major forest fires – with the last two in particular continuing to influence carbon emissions more so than human activities, when they occur.
    When we do consider human activities as an influence on carbon emissions as an influence on climate change, what everyone appears to continually ignore when discussing carbon reduction strategies, is the size of the population and its continued growth. It is only by identifying a population level that is sustainable and developing strategies that will enable those levels to be achieved, can we adequately limit human influence on climate change.

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