Australia one of the countries most exposed to climate change, bank warns
Cole Latimer22 March 2018 — 2:00pm
Australia is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change in the developed world, and the threat of Australians dying from global warming-related events has risen, global bank HSBC warns.
Australia is at risk of more bushfires as climate change continues.
Photo: Jonathan Carroll
A new report by the bank, titled Fragile Planet, has ranked 67 countries for their exposure to climate change risks. Australia scored poorly, with the largest percentage rise in deaths attributable to climate change in the developed world.
Combining data from the World Bank and EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database which calculates economic damage estimates, HSBC said fatalities attributable to climate change-linked events such as stronger storms, floods, or heat-related incidents surged from 0.36 per cent of the population between 1997 and 2006 to 3.41 per cent between 2007 and 2016.
At the same time, the number of people impacted by climate change events surged from 3.25 to 15.25 per 1000 of the population.
Israel and the US were the only developed countries with a bigger share of the population impacted by climate change-related events such as floods, storms, hurricanes, and wildfires.
Globally, the World Health Organisation forecasts that around 250,000 additional deaths annually will be attributable to climate change.
HSBC developed the report as a tool for investors to provide in-depth information on countries’ climate change risk profiles, on their energy issues, risks to business operations, supply and demand and logistics as well as their long-term sustainable development issues.
Australia was ranked as highly sensitive to the physical risks of climate change, with predictions of more storms, floods, rain and bushfires. New Zealand ranked as one the nations least exposed to those risks.
Hurting the economy
Late last year, Deutsche Bank also developed a tool to forecast where its investments across the globe may be impacted by natural disasters brought on by climate change.
The German bank’s economic modelling estimated that if carbon emissions aren’t reduced throughout this century, per capita GDP will be 23 per cent lower than it otherwise would be.
Principal Advisor at The Australia Institute, Mark Ogge, said Australia’s industries and infrastructure, such as coastal based business, roads and rail, and both commercial residential assets, are at significant risk from climate change-related events.
“There’s up to $236 billion of infrastructure at risk from a one-metre sea level rise alone,” Mr Ogge said. Temperature increases also put Australia’s tourism industry at risk, with a rising number of days above 35 degrees celsius in holiday destinations such as Far North Queensland, he added.
The Australia Institute believes billions of dollars in infrastructure are at risk from a one-metre sea level rise.
Photo: Ashley Roach
Australia is the only developed market that ranked within the top ten in HSBC’s report for energy transition issues due to its high levels of fossil fuel exports – particularly coal – and is one of the few countries that has seen these exports growing as a percentage of their gross domestic product.
HSBC sees risks to the nation’s economy as Australia attempts to shift its energy and economic system, currently underpinned by fossil fuels, to one with a greater mix of renewables.
“Many countries and other actors are at risk of seeing parts of their old energy economy becoming effectively ‘stranded assets’ – or economically non-viable – given the relative economics of alternatives and new breakthrough technologies,” the HSBC report stated.
“Managing the transition to a lower carbon economy is key to mitigating downside risks,” the bank said. “We think achieving diversification is key.”
The good news
However, it is not all bad news. Australia was ranked amongst the top three nations – along with New Zealand and Norway – with the greatest potential to respond to climate change and financially prepare the country for a changing environment.
Despite Australia’s frequent drought conditions, it was seen as a market with adequate water resources availability, while Singapore was the developed market most at risk over water availability.
Press link for more: SMH.COM