Over thirty mayors and councillors from some of Australia’s most flood-damaged regions have called on the government to do more to protect communities from tragic and costly extreme weather.
Mayors and councillors from Lismore in New South Wales to Logan in Queensland, released a joint statement responding to one of the worst extreme weather disasters in the nation’s history, calling for urgent action to protect their communities from worsening climate change.
The statement is calling on the federal government to:
- 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.
- 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. (Australian Local Government Association, 2021).
- 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.
- 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.
- Establish a national body, or expand the remit of an existing one, to support research adaptation and act as a centralised hub for up-to-date climate change information.
“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,” said Lismore City Council Councillor Elly Bird. “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.”
City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy Oceania said, “The extreme weather events highlight exactly why it is crucial for our Federal Government to lead the charge against climate change in order to minimise the impacts of future weather events on local communities by increasing funding sources for councils to respond to climate impacts, invest in preparing before climate disasters strike, and importantly, establish a national body to act as a centralised hub for up-to-date climate information.”
The scale and speed of extreme weather that Australia has recently experienced has been fatal to our communities. Deloitte Access Economics reported in 2021 that if emissions continue unabated, floods could cost us $40billion per year by 2060.
According to the IPCC report, for each 1°C rise in global average temperature, the atmosphere can hold approximately 7 percent more moisture — increasing the likelihood of extreme downpours and raising the risk of flooding. If we want to protect our communities we must confront the root cause of climate change by drastically and rapidly cutting our emissions this decade.
“The devastating floods in NSW and QLD have demonstrated that climate change is here, now. Without urgent action to stem its impacts, local communities will suffer. Our national government has such a leading role to play in reducing emissions and disaster preparation and response. Local governments stand ready to partner with them in this urgent action,” stated Cr. Amanda Stone as Chair of ICLEI Oceania Local Governments for Sustainability.
Mayors, Councillors and local government leaders are working to accelerate climate action with the support of ICLEI Oceania, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy Oceania is working with Better Futures Australia, Cities Power Partnership and more.
You can get involved by adding your name to this joint statement today. Stand with these local leaders and amplify their call to the Federal government for support.