Aussie coastlines at risk of rising sea levels, if climate action delays

20.02.18 By

ONGOING GRIDLOCK surrounding Australia’s efforts to tackle climate change will contribute to worsening sea-level rise and coastal flooding events around the country and around the world, according to a new global study.

The Nature Communications “Committed sea-level rise under the Paris Agreement and the legacy of delayed mitigation action,” report shows global sea levels are expected to rise between 0.7 and 1.2 metres by 2300, despite the international accord to limit global temperatures to 2 degrees.

Climate Councillor and international climate scientist, Professor Will Steffen said the new research shows that for every five year delay on cutting greenhouse gas pollution and tackling climate change will likely add another 20 centimetres to sea level rise is at risk of occuring, placing global coastlines, including Australia’s, under increasing threat.

“The window of opportunity to tackle climate change is rapidly closing. This is yet another warning signal that Australia must urgently slash its rising greenhouse gas pollution levels now and over the coming decades,” he said.

“We are currently the global laggard and are not even close to doing our fair share to tackle climate change. There is now a mounting body of evidence that sea-level rise, even if we manage to meet the Paris targets, will be a serious issue for centuries to come.”

It comes after the release of University of Colorado satellite observation research showing that sea-level rise is accelerating, putting us on track for a 65 cm increase in average sea level by 2100, compared to the 2005 level.

Professor Steffen said the implications for Australia were serious, with much of the nation’s infrastructure hugging coastlines.

“Towards the end of the century we could see an increase in coastal flooding events by a hundred, or even a thousand-fold, for many of Australia’s coastal cities,” he said.

“The Federal Government must move to rollout strong climate and energy policy that embraces the transition to clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy, moving away from polluting, expensive and inefficient fossil fuels.”

“The failure of Australia to join the global effort to cut its rising pollution levels now and over the coming decades risks committing us to worsening extreme weather, events, including severe heatwaves, supercharged storms, bushfires and floods, along with rising sea levels for many centuries into the future.”

For more information please contact Senior Communications Advisor Alexia Boland 0438 972 260.