FLOODING has returned to NSW, with thousands of Sydney residents subject to evacuation orders and warnings that in some parts, flood levels may exceed those seen earlier this year.
Experts from the Climate Council say preparedness is the key, as communities continue to experience compounding severe weather events, fuelled by a warmer atmosphere.
Climate Councillor and leader of the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) group, Greg Mullins, added:
“La Niña may be officially over, but there is a real sting in the tail for these communities who have already been through a terrible year of extreme flooding.
“There is absolutely no doubt extreme weather events are being intensified because of climate change. The science is very clear that we’re seeing wild fluctuations between periods of flood and fire, because of warming. On the East Coast of Australia in the last 18 months we’ve now had four major floods.
“I’ve worked in emergency management for half a century and it’s frightening. It’s time for the world to wake up and take real action on climate change. Communities having to deal with flood event after flood event is absolutely affecting our response and recovery.
“Last month, myself and members of the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action group met with the new Labor Government to discuss preparedness and response to these compounding disasters. We presented our six point plan for disaster preparedness, response and management. It’s good to hear our new Emergency Minister Murray Watt talk about learning lessons from past failures and the need to get ahead of these disasters. This flooding will be a test of that.”
Climate Council CEO, Amanda McKenzie, added:
“Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this flooding, particularly those who are going through it for the second or third time this year. This is our new climate reality unfortunately. Communities have less time to recover between events and they’re coming hard and fast.
“It’s events like these that underline the need for drastic emissions reductions this decade. This is urgent.
“We are very concerned that there is a 50% chance La Niña will return again in summer. The new Labor Government must get ahead of another potential summer of increased flood risk for these communities.
“It is absolutely vital to learn from failures of the past. There are 80 recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements that need immediate attention. Both the NSW and previous federal governments have failed to implement many of them, but this must be a priority.
“Australia is under-prepared. Only a very small fraction of disaster spending is committed to preparedness and resilience building. We would expect to see a big shift in this ratio to see a much bigger focus on preparedness given the escalating risk of climate-fuelled disasters.”
See the Climate Council’s report on how weather events are supercharging flood and rain events.
For interviews please contact Jane Gardner 0438 130 905.
The Climate Council is Australia’s leading community-funded climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community. For further information, go to: climatecouncil.org.au Or follow us on social media: facebook.com/climatecouncil and twitter.com/climatecouncil