'DISASTER': Aussie cities will flood without urgent climate action

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Key infrastructure across Australia and around the world will be flooded as global heating continues to impact the planet.

Airports in particular are at risk of coastal inundation as many of them are built on reclaimed marshlands or flat, low lying areas near water.

Sea level rises are one of the “potential threats” Sydney Airport has developed contingency plans for, with a taskforce noting it could cause temporary disruptions and flood damage.

Left - a crowded Bondi Beach. Right - Blocks of concrete in the ocean to prevent storm surges.
Infrastructure will need to protect Australia's iconic beaches from rising ocean levels. Source: Getty / File
A map of NSW, focussing on Sydney and showing areas of coast that will be impacted by flooding
The impact of rising sea levels on Australia's cities will be significant, data reveals. Source: Climate Central

Climate change is on everyone’s mind in the lead up to the United Nations COP26 in Glasgow, and whether leaders commit to net zero emissions by 2050 will have a direct impact on its impact on global economies.

Despite pressure from other developed nations including the UK and USA, Prime Minister Scott Morrison yet to agree to meet the target.

The prime minister on Friday committed to travelling to the United Kingdom for the COP26 conference which starts on October 31.

Climate change costing Australia now

With the science so clear and the risk so great, it’s “unfathomable” that some leaders refuse to make the 2050 pledge, Climate Council spokesperson and economist Nicki Huntley told Yahoo News.

She points to a Deloitte Access Economics report released this month that found climate change related disasters will cost Australia $94 billion a year by 2060 if action is not taken to reduce emissions.

Melbourne and Brisbane, both located on rivers, are predicted to be burdened by “significant” cost increases as a result of flooding, while Sydney will be prone to coastal inundation.

Ms Huntley points out that it is not just future generations who will be paying for our inaction on climate change.

“When you look at what was happening in… Wamberal in NSW where the houses were literally falling into the water last year,” she said.

“There are some fairly substantial costs that we are that we are looking at, not just in the future, it's already happening in Australia.”

Sydneys iconic beaches 'will continue to recede'

Interactive mapping by US-based Climate Central reveals its’s not just regional beachside suburbs likely to be impacted by rising sea levels — Sydney’s beaches are also set to recede.

Their data reveals the impact will be worse if the world cannot contain their emissions below two degrees.

Home to Bondi and Bronte, Waverley Council told Yahoo News they are working with neighbouring councils to review Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) data and assess the combined impacts of sea level rise, tides, storms and waves.

Flooded Melbourne streets with a man in hi-vis in the foreground.
Melbourne and Brisbane will experience more intense flooding as a result of global heating. Source: Getty / File

“The management of council assets is undertaken so that our assets are resilient to future climate impacts,” a spokesperson said.

“Many of our assets, such as sea walls at our beaches will need to be significantly upgraded for this to occur.”

While they are working towards net zero by 2030, council have identified properties and beaches likely to be impacted by coastal inundation as a result of global emissions.

“Work undertaken by Council forecasts that our beaches will continue to recede as sea levels rise, with sea level rise combining with large wave and storm events likely to inundate and potentially damage coastal areas and assets,” it said.

Sydney Mayor calls for 'action' on climate change

Sydney's Lord Mayor Clover Moore is critical of successive federal governments for their lack of action to significantly reduce emissions, saying the country still lacks a “meaningful commitment” to tackle the “climate disaster”.

While she believes rising sea levels will take “some time” to impact the city, it remains a reality which must be prepared for, and there are many other climate related impacting now.

An Australian bushfire scene with an inset of Scott Morrison.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is yet to commit to net zero by 2050 despite signs that climate change impacting Australia. Source: AAP

“While lowering emissions to stop runaway climate change is critical, we are of course working to mitigate its impacts, given we are already experiencing the reality of climate change – such as extreme heat and bushfires increasing in frequency and severity,” she said in a statement.

“Preparing for longer and hotter summers is why we’re planting more trees, building recycled water infrastructure to keep them alive, and exploring how we can support vulnerable people, including plans to open up air-conditioned spaces to the community when it gets too hot to bear.”

Ms Moore believes the latest IPCC findings offer a “glimmer of hope”, but that will require rapid action and sustained emissions reductions to hit net zero as soon as possible.

“Such a commitment from the Federal Government would be responsible, and is overdue,” she said.

“It is time for action.”

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