Albanese outlines need for urgent climate action

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said the latest severe flooding in parts of the country is a clear signal that “we need to act on climate change”.

In a joint briefing with state Premier Dominic Perrottet in Sydney, he said that the country needs “to show leadership and encourage that action”.

“That is one of the reasons why my government is taking climate change seriously and engaging with the world to ensure that global action steps up.”

Across Sydney’s western fringe, rivers have broken their banks and large areas have been transformed into inland lakes, with mud-brown waters invading homes while cutting off roads and bridges.

Albanese visited the affected area on Wednesday (6 July), promising to look for “long-term solutions” after multiple flooding disasters across Australia’s east coast in the past 18 months.

Her said that while “Australia has always been subject of floods, of bushfires”, scientists have said climate change would make such events more frequent and intense. “What we are seeing, unfortunately, is that play out,” he said.

Sydney’s main reservoir has overflowed, dumping what local authorities said was the equivalent to all the water in Sydney harbour into the surrounding area.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said in its latest update that “very warm waters off the Australian coast (21-23°C) provided extra energy and moisture contributing to the deep trough and east coast low, leading to the relative concentration of the heavy rainfall to one 24-hour period.” 

The federal government has declared a natural disaster in 23 flooded parts of the state, unlocking relief payments to stricken residents.

However, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology also said the weather system was expected to move off coast later this week.

Andrew Hall, chief executive of the Insurance Council of Australia, said he expected the Sydney floods would be declared a “catastrophe” by the insurance industry.

He said 2,700 claims had been lodged by Tuesday from Sydney alone, and more were anticipated as people were able to return to their homes.

Hall said there had been Aus$5 billion ($3.4 billion) in catastrophe claims made in Australia this year.

Across Sydney’s western fringe, rivers have broken their banks and large areas have been transformed into inland lakes, with mud-brown waters invading homes while cutting off roads and bridges.

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