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Canberra told to ‘scale up’ climate change preparations

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The Federal Government has been urged to overhaul its disaster resilience strategy as climate change causes a rise in “concurrent extreme weather events and events that follow in closer succession”.

A policy paper by the independent, non-partisan Australian Strategic Policy Institute warns the compounding, cascading disasters Australia will experience may overwhelm our ability to cope.

Mitigation funding equates to only 3% of what the nation spends on post-disaster clean-ups, the paper says.

The Government should “scale up Australia’s efforts to prevent the effects of natural hazards, such as from extreme weather, from becoming disasters”, the institute says.

It suggests incentives to promote private-public investment in resilient infrastructure and broader socioeconomic resilience. This could include reducing insurance premiums to encourage people to invest in strengthening their homes.

Climate change adaption and disaster risk reduction need to be linked, the paper says.

It warns current strategies are based on disasters in a stable climate, or with a gradual increase in climate change impacts. This will be outdated in little more than a decade.

Critical infrastructure and other socioeconomic assets should be assessed for their exposure to natural disasters, and subdivided or made redundant if necessary.

States should establish agencies like the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, with funding, legal authority and policy support to build resilience, the institute says.

The paper says some communities that are more exposed to climate change may slip into “chronic crisis”.

All levels of government should co-ordinate managed retreats from these areas, including property buyouts and subsidising relocations.