Flood and fire are no strangers to either the Byron Shire or the Northern Rivers. As the dry conditions continue and the climate emergency news keeps rolling in, people are looking for ways to understand what is taking place and how to respond.
‘The Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released on 25 September, presents a disturbing assessment of the effects of climate change on the world’s coasts and oceans,’ said Barry Sammels, the Chair of the Australian Coastal Councils Association (ACCA).
Risks for local government areas (LGA) across Australia have been categorised in the report Climate Change Risk to Australia’s Built Environment with analysis provided by Climate Risk Engines. The Byron Shire has been identified as, ‘Highly vulnerable to both forest fire and coastal inundation’ ranking 13th nationally for fire and 11th for inundation risk.
In a detailed story by the ABC (https://ab.co/2pkv6Ji) the content from the report has been used to create an interface that identifies the number of potentially uninsurable addresses, based on the risk that each suburb faces. They predict that there will be increasing insurance costs that will see ‘nearly 720,000 – or one in 20’ uninsurable addresses in Australia by the turn of the century.
The prediction is that uninsurable addresses in Byron Bay will rise to 6.4 per cent or 439 addresses by 2100. Mullumbimby is predicted to rise to 10.2 per cent, Brunswick Heads will be at 16.7 per cent, South Golden Beach will hit 54.5 percent and of New Brighton addresses it will be 78.3 per cent of addresses that will be uninsurable by 2100. This prediction is based on current addresses and doesn’t include potential land release in areas like the proposed rezoning of southern Mullumbimby that may be flood prone.
But this shouldn’t really be news considering the Climate Change Risks to Coastal Australia report from 2009 clearly identified that ‘a mid range sea-level rise of 0.5 metres in the 21st century, events that now happen every 10 years, would happen about every 10 days in 2100. The current 1-in-100 year event could occur several times a year…’
‘Up to $63 billion [in 2009] (replacement value) of existing residential buildings are potentially at risk of inundation from a 1.1 metre sea-level rise, with a lower and upper estimate of risk identified for between 157,000 and 247,600 individual buildings.’
Mr Sammels, Chair of the ACCA has said that the recent IPCC report represents a ‘wake-up call’ for all levels of government in Australia.
‘We are already seeing the effects of climate change in coastal areas in the form of widespread coastal erosion, more frequent and severe extreme weather events and more frequent inundation’.
The report warns that the current rate of annual sea level rise of 3.6mm is projected to increase to 15mm a year by 2100. It also warns that under a business-as-usual scenario, the sea level is projected to rise up to 1.1m over the next 80 years.
‘But there is currently no national plan to address these risks, which will impact on coastal communities and their residents all around Australia. The nation urgently needs a comprehensive plan to deal with the climate hazards that lie ahead, for the sake of coastal communities and the coastal environment, and to defend the extensive public and private infrastructure and assets that are at risk.’
Analysis strengths and weaknesses for individual suburbs and addresses is explained in the ABC article.