By 2100 more than 150,000 Victorian properties could be at high risk of damage from sea level rise and storm surge, according to new research on the impact of climate change on the state.
The report, commissioned by the Victorian Marine and Coastal Council (VMaCC) and Life Saving Victoria, and which includes research from Melbourne University and Climate Risk, also predicted the impact on land and property along the would reach a loss of $337 billion.
A further loss of up to $105 billion has also been forecast for wetlands, according to the study titled Economic Impacts from Sea Level Rise and Storm Surge in Victoria, Australia over the 21st Century.
Victorian Marine and Coastal Council chairman Dr Anthony Boxshall said action on climate change would be essential to lessen the impact of rising sea levels.
“We know that climate change is going to hurt many Victorian communities if we do not act,” Dr Boxshall said.
“This rigorous report clearly and comprehensively documents the economic challenges that Victoria’s coastal communities will face from sea level rise and related storm surges.
“Spending on adaptation over the next two decades could help reduce future risk and save significantly on the estimates of future costs.”
The research shows that by 2100 almost every community along Victoria’s coastline will be affected, with high density residential and commercial areas such as Docklands, Port Melbourne and bayside suburbs set to be worst hit.
For example, by 2040, more than 16000 properties in Southbank will be at high risk of damage, and by 2100 this will rise to more than 31,000 properties.
Docklands will have more than 3000 properties at risk by 2040 and more than 37,000 by 2100.
“Modelling that focused solely on 3.8 million existing residential and commercial properties showed that by 2100 more than 151,000 properties are under ‘high risk’ of damage from sea level rise and storm surge, and more than 333,000 properties will be exposed to at least some damage,” the general summary of the report said.
“The losses are projected to force a correction to the total market value of the property portfolio in Victoria which would result in a 3.7 per cent loss by 2100.”
The report also shows that 144,000ha of coastal reserves will be affected, as will 288,000ha of Victoria’s wetlands.
Report author Professor Tom Kompas, from the University of Melbourne, said the community impacts would be wide ranging.
“The economic damages from sea level rise and storm surge to coastal areas are more than enough to trigger considerable financial instability for many coastal communities and the state of Victoria itself, not to mention the potential loss of life, and damages to food, water supply and environmental assets from sea level rise and storm surge, many aspects of which are not accounted for in our calculations.”
In response to the findings VMaCC and Life Saving Victoria have called for the establishment of an independent taskforce to develop and promote a vision and operational blueprint to guide Victoria’s response to rising sea levels and related storm surge.
“Our members have observed the discernible influence of rising sea levels on numerous beaches,” Life Saving Victoria Chief Executive Officer Catherine Greaves said.
“This evidence underscores an urgent call to action.
“It is important that we engage in thoughtful preparation to effectively address sea level rise and coastal inundation, thereby mitigating risks, while simultaneously safeguarding the natural allure of our pristine coastline and beaches to ensure we cultivate a safe, sustainable legacy for generations to come.”