The Climate Council has said that it believes the damage toll from last week’s New South Wales storms was made worse by climate change.
Meanwhile, the ICA has released updated claims figures as insured losses have now hit $201 million with claims at 29,065 as of Friday.
The Climate Council highlighted the rise of global sea levels due to climate change which increased storm surges compared with previous years, which in-turn increased the extent and severity of flooding and coastal erosion.
Professor Will Steffen, a climate change expert and researcher at the Australian National University in Canberra, warned that the continued risk of climate change will only make future flooding and storm surges worse.
“Global sea level has already risen by about 20cm since the mid-19th century due to the warming of our oceans and melting ice sheets,” Steffen said.
“This means storm surges are riding on higher levels and have increased the damage when they hit land.
“As sea levels continue to rise, the extent of the damage caused by flooding will only get worse.”
Professor Steffen and the Climate Council warned that climate change could have a $226 billion effect on the commercial, industrial, road, rail and residential assets of Australia and that the recent storms highlight the new severity of Australian weather.
“In addition to driving sea level rise, climate change is making weather patterns more volatile with more time spent in dry spells but more intense rainfall when it does occur,” Professor Steffen said.
“The combination of rising sea level and increasing intensity of rainfall creates a double whammy effect driven by climate change, greatly increasing the risk of severe flooding.
“Australia is highly vulnerable to increasing coastal flooding because most of our cities, towns and critical infrastructure are located on the coast.
“Stabilising the climate system through deep and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions today is the only way to significantly reduce the level of risk that we face from coastal flooding in the second half of the century and beyond,” Professor Steffen warned.