A major joint statement has been released, signed by 28 mayors and councillors from some of the nation’s most flood damaged regions calling on the Government to do more to protect communities from tragic and costly extreme weather.
Of the 28 signatories, Eurobodalla Deputy Mayor has signed the following statement:
"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. Many communities also experienced the Black Summer bushfire season of 2019-20.
The impacts of climate change and extreme weather are all around us. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes it abundantly clear that climate change is intensifying extreme weather events including rainfall and flooding events like this one, and their frequency is increasing.
We are exhausted by the immediate costs and challenges, and we are worried about what’s to come. 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.
We call on the federal government to:
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.2
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.
Elly Bird, Councillor, Lismore City Council said, in signing the Statement, “If we’re to learn a lesson from the catastrophic flooding that we are now seeing happen in Australia every few years, it’s that we are severely underprepared for catastrophic events like this one. We urgently need to address the root cause of the heightened storm threat - climate change.
“Local governments, like Lismore City Council, have been trying to work together with our
communities to take action against climate change and build resilience. But we need more
support and we need it urgently.
“That’s why I’ve joined 28 other mayors and Councillors from Logan City Council in Queensland through to Eurobodalla Shire Council in New South Wales to call on our Federal leaders to immediately step up and reduce the climate impacts that put our communities in the firing line.
“Now is the time for our Government to lead the country in delivering on an ambitious emissions reduction target this decade to protect communities like ours from the future climate shocks that we know are coming and that we are living every single day."