Hurricane Sandy a reminder of climate change threat

The Atlantic City boardwalk  is taken out as big seas surge ahead of Hurricane Sandy.
The Atlantic City boardwalk is taken out as big seas surge ahead of Hurricane Sandy. Instagram

THE devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy is a timely reminder about the threat posed to life and infrastructure by climate change.

That's the assessment of The Climate Institute, which said the cascading and costly impacts of Sandy - with some estimates at about $45 billion - should add impetus to government and business action on climate and extreme weather risks to Australia's infrastructure.

CEO John Connor said the US storm had come in the same week it released a report dealing this issue.

"On Monday we released a report prepared with business Coming Ready or Not: Managing climate risks to Australia's infrastructure that revealed Australia's electricity, transport, property and financial infrastructure is mostly under-prepared," Mr Connor said.

"Sandy has now given an immediate, tragic and costly lesson in the consequences of such a lack of preparation."

Mr Connor said a report released last week by Baker & McKenzie argued that trustees in charge of Australia's $1.4 trillion in superannuation who failed to consider climate change risk may be in breach of their fiduciary duties.

He also said urgent action was needed by governments of all levels, particularly through the Council of Australian Governments process.

"Australian governments have made progress on disparate elements of the May 2007 National Climate Change Adaptation Framework, but core elements of coordination and governance may only possibly be addressed by COAG later this year," he said.

"State governments in Victoria, NSW and most recently Queensland have wound back coastal planning controls, moves which should be urgently reconsidered.

"COAG needs to see all governments urgently lifting their game, refreshing the adaptation framework and expanding analysis and reporting of infrastructure independencies to risk. The Commonwealth's response to the Productivity Commission's report on barriers to adaptation should carry a similar urgency."

Hurricane Sandy has reportedly claimed more than 40 lives.

Topics:  climate change hurricane sandy weather

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