Natural disaster costs to hit $73b by 2060: best-case scenario

Natural disasters will cost Australia $73 billion by 2060, even under a low emissions scenario, a new business roundtable report suggests.

The Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities says the $79 billion forecast is “significantly higher” than the $39 billion by 2050 cost it estimated in 2017.

The Roundtable’s latest report on the economic costs of natural disasters in Australia, prepared by Deloitte, says natural disasters cost the Australian economy $38 billion per year on average each year.

Even if a low-emission scenario is achieved, the cost of natural disasters is forecast to be $1.2 trillion in cumulative costs over the next 40 years.

Two-thirds of the costs will be incurred in Queensland and NSW as communities there become more exposed to tropical cyclones and floods and as warming oceans enable tropical cyclones to move further south.

Roundtable chairman and CEO of insurance group IAG Nick Hawkins said: “Action to limit climate change must be coupled with interventions to better prepare communities.

“Members are seeing first-hand the impacts of more extreme, more frequent weather events on Australians, and this latest report provides further evidence that we must all continue to invest in increasing resilience to protect communities and ultimately save lives,” he said.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) is calling for Local Government Climate Change Response Partnership Fund of $200 million over four years to provide support for councils to help their communities reduce emissions and understand and transition to the future.