Counting the costs: Climate Change and Coastal Flooding

06.11.14 By
This article is more than 9 years old

The Climate Council have released a new report today, Counting the costs: Climate Change and Coastal Flooding

Many Australians live on or near the coast. The major population centres —Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin—are all port cities and much of the nation’s critical infrastructure—transport, commercial, residential, defence—is located along our coastlines. Virtually all of this infrastructure has been designed and built for a stable climate with known ranges of variability. But the climate system is no longer stable. Sea level is rising and so are the risks for our coastal infrastructure.


  1. Sea level has already risen and continues to rise due to climate change. Climate change exacerbates coastal flooding from a storm surge as the storm rides on higher sea levels.
  2. Australia is highly vulnerable to increasing coastal flooding because our cities, towns and critical infrastructure are mainly located on the coast. Australia’s infrastructure has been built for the climate of the 20th century and is unprepared for rising sea level.
  3. Coastal flooding is a sleeping giant. If the threat of sea level rise is ignored, the projected increases in economic damage caused by coastal flooding are massive.
  4. Rising sea levels pose risks for many of Australia’s species and iconic natural places, such as Kakadu National Park and the Great Barrier Reef.
  5. Rising sea level is eroding the viability of coastal communities on islands in the Torres Strait and the Pacific, and in low-lying areas of Asia, increasing the likelihood of migration and resettlement.
  6. We need deep and urgent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions this decade and beyond if we are to avoid the most serious risks from rising sea levels and coastal flooding.