Commission of confusion on climate risk Media Release

Mar 15, 2013 - 11:00am

The Productivity Commission’s report into Barriers to Effective Climate Change Adaptation and the Government’s subsequent response leave some gaping holes in Australia’s ability to prepare for the full range of potential climate change risks, said The Climate Institute today.
“The Commission’s failure to recommend better disclosure on climate risk management and lack of focus on the risks of the almost inevitable two degree warming and the likely four degree warming, has led to an inadequate Government response,” said John Connor, CEO, The Climate Institute.
“The Commission’s section on infrastructure is perhaps the most surprising, stressing that ‘adaptation options be embedded in infrastructure providers’ risk management frameworks’ but deciding against recommending disclosure of the risks and their management.”
“Disclosure of material risks by large infrastructure and service providers is critical to well-functioning markets and emergency services. It reveals the exposure or readiness of systems upon which society depends. It enables priority setting and the assessment of progress toward adaptation. Importantly, it also enables organisations and individuals that invest in or rely on these systems and services to assess the consequent risk to their own interests.”
“In their defence the Commission’s report was submitted to Government before the release of more thorough research on Australian infrastructure’s readiness prepared by The Climate Institute in partnership with Westpac, Mirvac, Manidis Roberts and with the support of Bond University.”
That research, Coming Ready or Not: Managing climate risks to Australia’s infrastructure , contained a detailed sector by sector analysis and was released a month after the PC report was submitted.
“The Commission appears to have relied on some positive examples provided in submissions ad hearings but the Government’s response should be shaped by the more thorough research in Coming Ready or Not. Public disclosure is core to better management and community readiness.”
“The Commission’s proposal to group responses in current and future climate risks requires far greater focus.  Our climate preparedness should focus on the risks associated with a warming of two degrees above pre-industrial levels that all countries have committed to avoiding, but also to those associated with four degrees warming which is where current commitments will take the world.”
“A four degree rise does not merely double the risks of a two degree rise. Climate science shows that many risks, such as bushfire risk, rise exponentially as temperatures increase.”
“The report does make several important recommendations for land-use planning systems, the National Construction Code, the legal liabilities for local governments, for an independent review of disaster prevention and recovery arrangements, and for an independent public inquiry into managing the risks of climate change to existing settlements.”

“A better response would focus on the risks associated with the almost unavoidable two degree warming and those with the catastrophic but currently more likely four degree warming. Government should play a stronger role in facilitating disclosure of the preparedness of infrastructure, public agencies and institutional investors,” concluded Connor.

For more information
John Connor | CEO, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299
Kristina Stefanova | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299

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