Sep 7, 2005

Government ignores warning of Climate Change disasters

Government ignores warning of Climate Change disasters


7 September 2005

The Howard Government has ignored a key recommendation to bolster Australia’s domestic disaster plan to guard against extreme weather caused by climate change.

The Government’s “Climate Change: Risk and Vulnerability” Report (provided to the Government in March 2005, but released on 26 July) recommended Australia’s Disaster Mitigation Package include climate change.

In the six months since the Report was provided to the Government it has done nothing to address this important recommendation. After ten long years of the Howard Government, we remain unprepared for the impact of climate change.

Climate change should be on the agenda for the next COAG meeting to ensure Australia’s response to the challenge is dealt with at the highest level of Government.

The Government’s own Climate Change Report estimated Australia could be 2ºC hotter by 2030 and that this increase would be devastating for Australia, with more severe wind speeds in cyclones, more severe heatwaves and bushfires, extended droughts, reduced rainfall in southern Australia and extensive damage to the Great Barrier Reef.

The possibility that climate change contributed to the intensity of Hurricane Katrina should make alarm bells ring.

Scientists have warned that climate change, induced by human activity, will increase the frequency and power of tropical storms.

Leading climate researcher, Professor Kerry Emanuel from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently found that tropical storms have doubled in destructive potential in the past 30 years because ocean surfaces have become warmer.

The Government’s Climate Change Report recommends the current study of emergency management priorities and responses being carried out by COAG should systematically include the additional risks posed by climate change.

The Climate Change Report is a call to action which requires a determined response, not complacency.