Showing posts with label climate change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label climate change. Show all posts

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Quotes of the Week

“If you want to know what caused those conditions, I’ll give you an answer – it’s called climate change,” the Queensland premier told reporters. “It is only the LNP who could watch Queensland burn and then blame the trees.”  [Queensland Premier Anna Palaszczuk quoted in The Guardian, 7 December 2018]

“Last year, more Australians bought their seventh home than those who bought their first”  [Journalist Timothy Swanston quoting an incorrect statment by Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni, ABC News, 8 December 2018]

 Most people just consider Assange a spoilt-brat egomaniac with murky motives, a limelight habit and some profoundly questionable political affiliations.”  [Journalist Elizabeth Farrelly writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 December 2018]

“Both Brandis and Turnbull were regularly labelled, and probably were what passes for, ‘moderates’ in the neoliberal alt-right nativist populist Trumpist tribal world, or whatever white patriarchy is called these days.”  [Academic and blogger Ingrid Matthews writing in oecomuse, 27 November 2018]

“Scott Morrison reminds me of a belligerent & angry Sunday School teacher. Protected by his Christian reputation but in reality just a nasty, angry, vengeful man”  [Elizabeth Marr on Twitter, 9 December 2018]

Friday, 14 December 2018

Australia’s Chief Scientist gives the Clarence Valley’s Daily Examiner a polite serve

This is what happens when a once proud 159 year-old newspaper is brought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and begins to publish the political rot that Andrew Bolt spews forth…….

The Daily Examiner, letter to the Editor, 11 December 2018, p.13:

Doing nothing on climate change not an option

On Tuesday, December 4 you published an opinion piece by Andrew Bolt titled, ‘Less marching, more learning’, which included a reference to me ‘admitting’ that we “could stop all Australia’s emissions – junk every car, shut every power station, put a cork in every cow – and the effect on the climate would still be ‘virtually nothing’.”

Those are Andrew Bolt’s words, not mine, and they are a complete misrepresentation of my position.

They suggest that we should do nothing to reduce our carbon emissions, a stance I reject, and I wish to correct the record.

On June 1, 2017 I attended a Senate Estimates hearing where Senator Ian Macdonald asked if the world was to reduce its carbon emissions by 1.3 per cent, which is approximately Australia’s rate of emissions, what impact would that make on the changing climate of the world.

My response was that the impact would be virtually nothing, but I immediately continued by explaining that doing nothing is not a position that we can responsibly take because emissions reductions is a little bit like voting, in that if everyone took the attitude that their vote does not count and no-one voted, we would not have a democracy.

Similarly, if all countries that have comparable carbon emissions took the position that they shouldn’t take action because their contribution to this global problem is insignificant, then nobody would act and the problem would continue to grow in scale.

Let me be clear, we need to continue on the path of reducing Australia’s carbon emissions. The fact remains that Australia’s emissions per person are some of the highest in the world.

In response to the recent IPCC report, I urged all decision makers – in government, industry, and the community – to listen to the science and focus on the goal of reducing emissions, while maximising economic growth.
I was upfront about the magnitude of the task: it is huge and will require a global effort.

We’ve never been a nation to shy away from a challenge, or from shouldering our fair share of the responsibility for solving global issues.

Sitting on our hands while expecting the rest of the world to do their part is simply not acceptable.

Dr Alan Finkel AO,
Australia’s Chief Scientist. [my yellow highlighting]

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Are Prime Minister Morrison & Co determined to reduce Australia to a hot, barren desert from sea to sea?

Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. (high confidence) (Figure SPM.1) {1.2}  [United Nations (2018) Global Warming of 1.5°C. Summary for Policymakers]

The global situation.....

United Nations, Sustainable Development, 8 October 2018:

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC was approved by the IPCC on Saturday in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December, when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

“With more than 6,000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide, this important report testifies to the breadth and policy relevance of the IPCC,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report in response to an invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when it adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The report’s full name is Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.

Limiting global warming 

The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC, or more. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean  free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2ºC.

“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5ºC or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

Limiting global warming would also give people and ecosystems more room to adapt and remain below relevant risk thresholds, added Pörtner. The report also examines pathways available to limit warming to 1.5ºC, what it would take to achieve them and what the consequences could be.

“The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5ºC are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of Working Group I.

The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.
“Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

Allowing the global temperature to temporarily exceed or ‘overshoot’ 1.5ºC would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove CO2 from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5ºC by 2100. The effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development, the report notes.

“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared with 2°C would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, making it easier to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” said Priyardarshi Shukla, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future, said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

“This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change while considering local context and people’s needs. The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” she said.

The Denver Post, 8 December 2018:

Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record, scientists projected Wednesday, in the latest evidence of the chasm between international goals for combating climate change and what countries are actually doing.

Between 2014 and 2016, emissions remained largely flat, leading to hopes that the world was beginning to turn a corner. Those hopes have been dashed. In 2017, global emissions grew 1.6 percent. The rise in 2018 is projected to be 2.7 percent.

The expected increase, which would bring fossil fuel and industrial emissions to a record high of 37.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, is being driven by nearly 5 percent emissions growth in China and more than 6 percent in India, researchers estimated, along with growth in many other nations throughout the world. 

Emissions by the United States grew 2.5 percent, while emissions by the European Union declined by just under 1 percent.

As nations are gathered for climate talks in Poland, the message of Wednesday’s report was unambiguous: When it comes to promises to begin cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change, the world remains well off target.

“We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change,” United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said this week at the opening of the 24th annual U.N. climate conference, where countries will wrestle with the ambitious goals they need to meet to sharply reduce carbon emissions in coming years.

“It is hard to overstate the urgency of our situation,” he added. “Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption.”

Guterres was not commenting specifically on Wednesday’s findings, which were released in a trio of scientific papers by researchers with the Global Carbon Project. But his words came amid a litany of grim news in the fall in which scientists have warned that the effects of climate change are no longer distant and hypothetical, and that the impacts of global warming will only intensify in the absence of aggressive international action.....

When hard-right, anti-science, fundamentalist ideology in Australia descends into madness………….

The Guardian, 10 December 2018:

 As four of the world’s largest oil and gas producers blocked UN climate talks from “welcoming” a key scientific report on global warming, Australia’s silence during a key debate is being viewed as tacit support for the four oil allies: the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait.

The end of the first week of the UN climate talks – known as COP24 – in Katowice, Poland, has been mired by protracted debate over whether the conference should “welcome” or “note” a key report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The IPCC’s 1.5 degrees report, released in October, warned the world would have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 45% by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5C and potentially avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, including a dramatically increased risk of drought, flood, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The UN climate conference commissioned the IPCC report, but when that body went to “welcome” the report’s findings and commit to continuing its work, four nations – the US, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia, all major oil and gas producers – refused to accept the wording, insisting instead that the convention simply “note” the findings.
Negotiators spent two and a half hours trying to hammer out a compromise without success.

The apparently minor semantic debate has significant consequences, and the deadlock ensures the debate will spill into the second critical week of negotiations, with key government ministers set to arrive in Katowice.

Most of the world’s countries spoke out in fierce opposition to the oil allies’ position.
The push to adopt the wording “welcome” was led by the Maldives, leader of the alliance of small island states, of which Australia’s Pacific island neighbours are members.

They were backed by a broad swathe of support, including from the EU, the bloc of 47 least developed countries, the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean, African, American and European nations, and Pacific countries such as the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.

Australia did not speak during the at-times heated debate, a silence noted by many countries on the floor of the conference, Dr Bill Hare, the managing director of Climate Analytics and a lead author on previous IPCC reports, told Guardian Australia.

“Australia’s silence in the face of this attack yesterday shocked many countries and is widely seen as de facto support for the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait’s refusal to welcome the IPCC report,” Hare said…..

Australia’s environment minister, Melissa Price, arrived in Katowice on Sunday, with negotiations set to resume Monday morning.

 “The government is committed to the Paris agreement and our emissions reduction targets,” she said before leaving Australia. “Australia’s participation in the Paris agreement and in COP24 is in our national interest, in the interests of the Indo-Pacific region, and the international community as a whole.”

Price said a priority for Australia at COP24 was to ensure a robust framework of rules to govern the reporting of Paris agreement targets. “Australia’s emissions reporting is of an exceptionally high standard and we are advocating for rules that bring other countries up to the standard to which we adhere.”

The latest Australian government figures, released last month, show the country’s carbon emissions continue to rise, at a rate significantly higher than recent years.

Australia’s emissions, seasonally adjusted, increased 1.3% over the past quarter. Excluding emissions from land use, land use change and forestry (for which the calculations are controversial), they are at a record high..... [my yellow highlighting]

The Guardian, 11 December 2018:

Patrick Suckling (sitting on panel right), Australia’s ambassador for the environment, waits as protesters disrupt an event at the COP24 climate change summit in Katowice, Poland. Photograph: Łukasz Kalinowski/Rex/Shutterstock

Australia has reaffirmed its commitment to coal – and its unwavering support for the United States – by appearing at a US government-run event promoting the use of fossil fuels at the United Nations climate talks in Poland.

Australia was the only country apart from the host represented at the event, entitled “US innovative technologies spur economic dynamism”, designed to “showcase ways to use fossil fuels as cleanly and efficiently as possible, as well as the use of emission-free nuclear energy”.

Its panel discussion was disrupted for several minutes by dozens of protesters who stood up suddenly during speeches, unfurling a banner reading “Keep it in the ground” while singing and chanting “Shame on you”.

Patrick Suckling, Australia’s ambassador for the environment, and the head of the country’s negotiating delegation at the climate talks, spoke on the panel. His nameplate bore a US flag…..

…Simon Bradshaw, Oxfam Australia’s climate change policy adviser, said it was “extremely disappointing” to see Australia line up behind the US in pushing a pro-coal ideas.

“It is a slap in the face of our Pacific island neighbours, for whom bringing an end to the fossil fuel era is matter of survival, and who are working with determination to catalyse stronger international efforts to confront the climate crisis. And it is firmly against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of Australians.”

Bradshaw said continuing to use coal was not only uneconomic, but would “be measured in more lives lost, entrenched poverty, rising global hunger, and more people displaced from their land and homes”.

He said the advice of the IPCC showed emphatically there was no space for new coal and that Australia’s position on coal was isolating it from the rest of the world.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of 48 countries most acutely affected by climate change, has committed to achieving 100% renewable energy production by the middle of the century at the latest. Other developed countries, including the UK, France, Canada and New Zealand, have committed to phasing out coal power by 2030.

Wells Griffith, a Trump administration adviser speaking alongside Suckling on the panel, said the US would continue extracting fossil fuels, and warned against “alarmism” about climate change…… [my yellow highlighting]

Greenhouse gas emissions in Australia to date.....

Trend emissions levels are inclusive of all sectors of the economy, including Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)

Reading Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: June 2018 [PDF 39 pages] released on 30 November 2018 it is highly unlikely that the Morrison Govenment will be able to meet Australia's commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Australia was closer to meeting Paris Agreement goals in 2013 under a Labor federal government than it is today under a Coalition federal government.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

The truth about Australia's approach to climate change

The graph below says it all - in 2008 through to September 2013 there was an Australian Labor Government in Canberra producing programs to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and from September 2013 until today there has been a Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government in Canberra intent on dismantling as much established cilmate change policy as is possible.

Trend emissions levels are inclusive of all sectors of the economy, including Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)

Reading Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: June 2018 [PDF 39 pages] released on 30 November 2018 it is highly unlikely that the Morrison Govenment will be able to meet Australia's commitments under the Paris Agreement.

For interim PM and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison to assert otherwise is a political lie.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

NSW Liberal & Nationals politicians won't be satisfied until they have turned this state into a wasteland

Echo Net Daily, 3 December 2018:

The North East Forest Alliance has called the process used by the Commonwealth and State Governments to adopt new Regional Forest Agreements as a superficial sham simply intended to lock-up public native forests for private sawmillers at significant environment cost.

North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Dailan Pugh says there has been no attempt to assess or review environmental, industry or social data, instead they are relying on incomplete and out of date assessments undertaken 20 years ago.

’The Governments chose to ignore the recommendation of their own reviewer for a contemporary review that included an assessment of the effects of climate change,’ he said.

‘By rejecting the recommendation of their own review and proceeding on incomplete and out of date assessments the National Party have once again proven that their intent is to lock up public resources for private companies irrespective of the environmental costs and community interests.

Mr Pugh says NEFA are disgusted that the Governments have not publicly released their new RFAs, so it is not possible to know what changes they have made. ‘They are keeping us in the dark,’ he said. ‘The only document they have released is their resource commitments which show they are increasing the cut of high quality logs in north-east NSW by at least 10,000 cubic metres to 230,000m3 per annum, at the same time they are fraudulently claiming a shortfall of 8,600m3 per annum to justify opening up protected old growth and rainforest for logging.’

‘Due to their increased logging intensity they are intending to more than double the cut of small and low-quality logs from 320,000 tonnes per annum to 660,000 tonnes per annum.

‘The increased logging intensity and significant reductions in protections for most threatened species and streams is an environmental crime.

Mr Pugh says that out of more than 5,400 public submissions on the proposed new NSW RFAs, only 23 supported the RFAs. ‘There is no social license to continue the degradation of our public native forests.

‘Plantations already provide 87% of our sawntimber needs, it is time to complete the transition to plantations and establish more plantations on cleared land, while we actively rehabilitate our public native forests to help them recover from past abuses and restore the full suite of benefits they can provide to the community.

North Eastern, Southern & Eden Regional Forest Agreements

Here are links to NSW members of the state parliament:

List of Members, Legislative Council

If any readers wish to contact members of the Berejiklian Government in order stand up for native forests these links provide addresses, telephone numbers and, in the case of the Legislative Assembly, the names of electorates these politicians represent.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

The Fire Next Time: "Climate is a driver of wildfire and of fire full stop"

Image: Green Cross Australia

ABC News, 1 December 2018:

Both the bushfires and the heatwave ravaging parts of Queensland have been described as extraordinary and abnormal.

Bureau of Meteorology Queensland manager Bruce Gunn said records had tumbled in a week of widespread and protracted heatwave conditions, combined with catastrophic fire danger.

"On Wednesday, Rockhampton Airport recorded catastrophic [fire] conditions for approximately three-and-a-half hours," Mr Gunn said.

"This was the first time this district has recorded catastrophic conditions and the most prolonged event in Queensland since the implementation of the current Fire Danger Rating System in 2010."

Fire ecologist Philip Stewart said Queensland's fires of the past few days were historically unusual.

"When one looks at the charcoal records with Aboriginal burning, we haven't seen any indicators that show that there had been mass fires or large intense fires like we are seeing today, or 'mega-fires', as I would call them," Dr Stewart said.

"They're not something one would expect at this time, but then again, fires of this nature can occur anywhere, provided that there's the right climatic conditions and the right fuels and so on."

Dr Stewart said the intensity and the extent of the fires was abnormal, as was the time of year that they were occurring.

He said they were "absolutely" a result of climate change.

"Climate is a driver of wildfire and of fire full stop," Dr Stewart said.

"So when we start to see an increase in temperature, we start see an increase in energy availability in that atmosphere, and that obviously will increase the potential for high-intensity fires and fast fires as well."…..

"We have definitely seen over the past 10 to 15 years an earlier onset of burning and a later fire season as well," Dr Stewart said.

He said the fire seasons were starting to overlap, within Australia and globally, so sharing resources would become harder.

And the tropics burning this week demonstrated that even areas traditionally considered safe were at risk.

"I would say that wherever you are you should have a fire plan … even [in] urban areas as we've seen in Greece recently, right down to the coast, and in the Californian fires … there's always a possibility that a fire can get in unless it's a concrete jungle," he said……

Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) CEO Richard Thornton said past fires were not necessarily predictive of future bushfires, so people needed to consider the worst-case scenario for them.

"It's about forward planning and getting people to recognise the changing nature of risk," Dr Thornton said.

"I think what we can say more generally and this doesn't apply just to Queensland … is in the Australian context, if we have days that are in the 40s with very high winds and very low humidity, the chances of fire starting and becoming uncontrollable very quickly, is highly likely.

"On those days, communities need to be very vigilant and aware of the environment and what their plans are for those days, and whether it's going to be to leave early," he said.

Dr Stewart said he would like to see an increase in funding for fire management and crews.

"There is very little funding available for any proactive fire management and fire mitigation research.

"We need a lot more, especially in Queensland," Dr Stewart said.

Monday, 3 December 2018

The Dept.of Youth sends a clear message to all those climate change deniers in the Morrison Coalition Government & those elsewhere in state governments and Australian industries

“activism  is  like  the  immune  system  it rises  in  response  to  the  threat”  [Aidan Ricketts by way of Jane Caro, Twitter, 1 December 2018]

And on the NSW North Coast……..
Memo to all Australian politicians: these students have parents, older siblings, grandparents and aunts & uncles who vote. Ignore them in May 2019 at your peril. 

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Climate Change 2018: local government putting Morrison & Co to shame

Clarence Valley Council, media release, 29 November 2018:

Council aims to be greenhouse gas emission free

THE Clarence Valley Council has set a target to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

The first step in reaching that target will be to cut greenhouse gas emissions (excluding landfill emissions) to 40% below 2016/17 levels by 2030.

It has also adopted a target of supplying half of its own electricity demand from renewable energy sources by 2030, with the long-term goal to secure all electricity from renewable energy.

Council’s waste and sustainability coordinator, Ken Wilson, said council had engaged consultants, 100% Renewable, to help with the development of renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in line with council’s climate change policy.

“Their report shows council is performing well, with about 8.3% of the energy used by council coming from renewable energy – primarily rooftop solar,” he said.

“Council currently has 646.3kw of PV Solar generating capacity.

“To achieve the short-term target the report assessed 47 initiatives involving solar photovoltaic and battery storage, street and park lighting, and energy efficiency costing in the order of $5,764,794.

Council plans to implement these measures over five years, which should help council meet its targets and achieve financial savings well before 2030.

“These initiatives have a payback of between four and eight years. Initiatives involving battery storage are expected to become more cost effective over the next few years, which will improve the payback period.

“Anticipated savings will be reflected in facility operating costs and will be ongoing. The average payback period is 6.5 years.

“These projects do not include a current proposal under investigation to develop a mini-hydro system at the Rushforth Road reservoir.

“The recommended targets are considered achievable and cost-effective.”

Release ends.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The climate change risk coastal towns and villages don't discuss enough

Financial Review, 15 November 2018:

Insurance giant IAG has warned a failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could result in a world that is "pretty much uninsurable", with poorer communities likely to bear the brunt of the effects.

In Australia, IAG said temperature increases of more than 3 degrees would expose greater swaths of Queensland to cyclones and flooding, while a rise of more than 4 degrees could make the risks to insurers prohibitive.

Timaru Herald, 26 May 2018, p.7:

Anyone now considering a coastal property should know what sea level rise is.
If they already own one, they shouldn't be surprised if buyers expect to know how it might affect them.

It's time to accept these properties may come with some risk, and let government and other agencies get on with the job of preparing without worrying about court battles over lost capital gains.

It's an inconvenient truth, but it appears that the value of flood- prone property will go down and many coastal towns will face a new threat.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2018:

If any Australian company needs to come clean over its climate risks, it’s QBE.
Not just so shareholders can understand how secure (or not) their capital is as climate impacts intensify.

This is about Australians being able to see just how perilous our future has become without urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Last October QBE said it expected 2017 to be the costliest year in the history of the global insurance industry, flagging a $US600 million ($767 million) hit to its pre-tax earnings. They weren't wrong, nor were they alone.

The triple-whammy of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hitting the US and Caribbean contributed to a record $US135 billion in payouts globally on natural disasters. Wildfires in California made things worse and, for Australian general insurers, Tropical Cyclone Debbie added to the pain.

Tom Herbstein, of Cambridge University’s insurance industry-funded project ClimateWise, summed it up in saying “climate change fundamentally challenges the existing insurance business model.”

And understandably there have been some drastic responses from within the industry. Hannover Re was even forced to sell its entire stock portfolio, worth €953 million ($A1.5 billion) , prompted by natural disaster claims.

Costly natural hazards are nothing new to QBE or indeed any of Australia’s big three general insurers.

Last year, individual large claims and natural hazards cost QBE $1.7 billion, or 15 per cent of the company’s net earned premium.

Compare this to the seven year average of 8.1 per cent to 2010, and you get an idea why QBE called it “unprecedented”.

Additionally, over the past decade, IAG under-provisioned for natural hazard claims by almost $1 billion while Suncorp under-provisioned by $1.9 billion.

It appears none of our general insurers are keeping up with the pace of climate change.


The role of general insurance is to assist policyholders to recover from losses, such as those caused by extreme weather events. With expertise in risk management developed over hundreds of years of operation, general insurers play a critical role in communicating, managing and responding to the the risks that many policyholders face today, as well as how those risks may evolve under a changing climate.

It follows that the general insurance industry naturally supports community policy adjustments that will enhance resilience to extreme weather, as well as measures that may assist to reduce emissions.

Using the industry’s expertise in the pricing, transfer and management of risk, the following activities being undertaken by the industry are intended to assist policy-makers and communities to address the implications of climate change:

Maintain the strong prudential foundations underpinning the Australian market, to ensure that the industry continues to be able to respond to large disaster events when they occur.

Manage the commercial, individual and community-level risks posed by climate change via innovative risk-transfer solutions.

Ensure that risk-transfer solutions deliver competitive price signals, through risk based pricing, that assist communities and decision makers to recognise and adapt to current and emerging extreme weather risks.

Assist to increase community resilience over time by sharing industry expertise that will help policy decision makers and the community to:
Reduce exposures by making development control decisions for exposed locations that are appropriate for both the location and the planned life cycle of the development, accounting for the increased risk posed by the changing climate.

Reduce vulnerability to natural disasters by implementing localised defensive infrastructure where necessary to achieve an acceptable residual risk of damage to an exposed community.

Reduce vulnerability to natural disasters by improving building codes to ensure that built structures remain viable following predictable events over their planned life cycle, accounting for the increased risk posed by the changing climate.

Assist policy-makers to understand the long term economic implications of climate change, as well as the benefits of any appropriate emission mitigation schemes, by providing credible data on current exposures and vulnerabilities, as measured by the general insurance industry.

Assist to implement practical solutions to emission reduction strategies, through the consideration of risk-transfer products that incentivise solutions to be brought to market by other industries.

This policy was approved by the ICA's Board on August 4, 2016.

Coast Adapt, 2015:

Climate change threatens the viability of insurance in Australia and across the globe.

Despite a number of recent ‘quiet’ years, a trend of increasing losses is apparent in Australia and globally due to extreme weather events.

Insurers are covering at a loss some parts of Australia that are considered disaster-prone.