He said the Coalition had “ignored” a Productivity Commission recommendation that the federal government invest “at least” $200 million a year in mitigation and resilience projects, a figure that should be matched by state and territory governments.
“The failure of governments to treat flood mitigation and resilience projects as critical investments in the economic future of natural disaster-prone communities is short-sighted and disappointing,” the spokesman said.
Actuaries Institute chief executive Elayne Grace also criticised the lack of resilience and prevention measures.
âThe institute was disappointed that there were no additional measures announced in the budget tonight to mitigate climate change or to improve the nationâs general resilience against natural disasters,” Ms Grace said.
The Insurance Council estimates around 97 per cent of disaster funding currently goes to “clean-up and recovery”, with just 3 per cent going on prevention.
Reshaping financial sector
In its latest State of the Climate report, the Bureau of Meteorology predicted climate change would lead to more hot days, more droughts in southern Australia, andÂ “an increase in intense heavy rainfall throughout Australia”.
In a recent study the Insurance Council found 16 of the 20 most flood-prone federal electorates in Australia were in Queensland, with the remainder in New South Wales.
The financial services industry has increasingly taken the financial risks associated with climate change seriously. Last week the big four banks joined forces with insurers and super funds to launch the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative, aimed at reshaping the financial sector to adapt to and promote a low-carbon economy. On Saturday insurance giant QBE announced it would stop insuring thermal coal companies.
Australia’s regulators have also put their weight behind efforts to deal with climate change, with both the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority naming the issue as a central concern.
Vexed political issue
But so far the Coalition government has been reluctant to back business and regulators, as climate change proves a persistently vexed political issue in both the Liberal and National parties.
Labor on Monday unveiled the climate policy it will take to the May election, which aims to reduce Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.
The centrepiece of the policy is a ramping up of the Coalition’s Safeguard Mechanism to make it a functional cap and trade system. It will place a limit on the carbon emissions of Australia’s 250 biggest emitters, forcing them to buy credits from other companies when they exceed the limit.
It also aims to make 50 per cent of Australia’s cars electric by 2030.
Labor’s plan is light on the adaptation and resilience measures called for by the Insurance Council. However, it would recommission the Climate
Change Authority and implement triennial “climate change assessments” that would assess the areas most vulnerable.