More than 80K Australians under evacuation notice . . .
Major flooding has hit Sydney, Australia’s largest city, after several days of heavy rain left roads and houses in some areas submerged. Close to 85,000 people have evacuated or been ordered to evacuate, and thousands have been rescued from the rising waters. Flooding is not new to Greater Sydney. Major floods last March ranked as the country’s third-most expensive disaster, and this is the region’s fourth major inundation in 18 months. Heavy rain abated midweek, although river levels and the risk of flash flooding remain dangerously high.
Climate change in action . . .
In many ways, Australia is a continent-sized microcosm of the adverse effects of climate change, with experts agreeing that the current flooding was worsened by climate change. Recorded temperatures are increasing, droughts are becoming more extreme, bushfires are worsening, and the duration of the fire season is lengthening, while floods are becoming both more frequent and more damaging. In addition to severe flooding affecting the country’s east coast repeatedly in recent years, the destruction caused by the 2019-2020 bushfireswas unprecedented and showed the fragility of built environments in the face of a devastating climate change-induced natural disaster.
Moving on climate policy . . .
Climate politics in Australia have been highly contested and divisive, with political parties unwilling to commit to major carbon reductions for fear of electoral backlash. However, many observers believe the election in May of the Australian Labor Party to be a watershed moment for Australian climate policy. Labor’s target of cutting emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels is decidedly more ambitious than the 26-28 per cent reduction target proposed by the previous Liberal/National Coalition government. Indeed, Labor’s more climate-friendly position was part of the reason voters rejected the centre-right Coalition at the ballot box. Among the Labor government’s first actions on the climate file was the announcement of a review of the previous government’s carbon credit system, which the former head of the country’s Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee described as “largely a sham.” But Australia relies on fossil fuels for over three-quarters of its electricity generation, and a great deal remains to be done if the country is to achieve its aggressive carbon-reduction target.
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Sydney residents return home to assess flood wreckage as heavy rain tracks north
- The Guardian: ‘Industrial revolution’: Australia’s decarbonisation needs rigorous management, thinktank warns
- The Sydney Morning Herald: Albanese blames global inaction on climate change for flooding disaster in Sydney