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Barriers to Effective Climate Change Adaptation

Inquiry report

This inquiry report was released on 14 March 2013.

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  • Key points
  • Contents
  • Australia's climate is changing and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
  • Changes in the frequency, intensity, location and timing of extreme weather events are likely to be how most Australians experience climate change.
  • Adaptation to these changes, and the effects of more gradual climate change, will occur over time as households, businesses, governments and communities respond to incentives to manage the climate (and other) risks they face.
  • However, a number of policy and regulatory barriers may inhibit adaptation responses, suggesting the potential for government action to improve outcomes for the community.
  • Governments at all levels should:
    • embed consideration of climate change in their risk management practices
    • ensure there is sufficient flexibility in regulatory and policy settings to allow households, businesses and communities to manage the risks of climate change.
  • A range of policy reforms would help households, businesses and governments deal with current climate variability and extreme weather events. These reforms would also build adaptive capacity to respond to future climate impacts. Examples include:
    • reducing perverse incentives in tax, transfer and regulatory arrangements that impede the mobility of labour and capital
    • increasing the quality and availability of natural hazard mapping
    • clarifying the roles, responsibilities and legal liability of local governments, and improving their capacity to manage climate risks
    • reviewing emergency management arrangements in a public and consultative manner, to better prepare for natural disasters and limit resultant losses
    • reducing tax and regulatory distortions in insurance markets.
  • Further actions are required to reduce barriers to adaptation to future climate trends and to strengthen the climate change adaptation policy framework. These include:
    • designing more flexible land use planning regulation
    • aligning land use planning with building regulation
    • developing a work program to consider climate change in the building code
    • conducting a public review, sponsored by the Council of Australian Governments, to develop appropriate adaptive responses for existing settlements that face significant climate change risks.
  • Some measures should not be implemented, as the costs would exceed the benefits.
    • Household insurance subsidies, or insurance regulations that impose net costs.
    • Systematically reviewing all regulation to identify impediments to adaptation.
    • Mandatory reporting of adaptation actions.
  • Some individuals and communities are likely to face greater challenges in adapting than others,implying a role for the tax and transfer system.

Background information

Stewart Turner (Research Manager) 03 9653 2218

  • Preliminaries
    • Cover, Copyright, Letter, Terms of reference, Contents and Abbreviations
  • Overview - including key points
  • Recommendations
  • Chapter 1 Introduction
    • 1.1 The scope of the inquiry
    • 1.2 The Commission’s approach to identifying reforms
    • 1.3 Conduct of the inquiry
  • Chapter 2 The challenges of climate change
    • 2.1 Australia’s variable and changing climate
    • 2.2 Projected climate change for Australia
    • 2.3 The impacts of climate change
    • 2.4 Climate change uncertainty
  • Chapter 3 Adapting to a changing climate
    • 3.1 Adapting to climate change
    • 3.2 Managing climate risks
    • 3.3 Measuring and evaluating adaptation activity
    • 3.4 Building adaptive capacity
    • 3.5 Assigning roles and responsibilities for adaptation
  • Chapter 4 Defining barriers to effective adaptation
    • 4.1 What is a barrier to effective adaptation?
    • 4.2 A classification of barriers to effective adaptation
    • 4.3 How should we respond to barriers?
  • Chapter 5 Assessing reform options and identifying priority reforms
    • 5.1 Assessing reform options to increase wellbeing
    • 5.2 Assessing reform options under uncertainty
    • 5.3 Identifying priority reforms
  • Chapter 6 'No regrets' policies
    • 6.1 Economic reform and adaptation
    • 6.2 Taxation
    • 6.3 Government transfers
    • 6.4 Regulation
  • Chapter 7 Information provision
    • 7.1 Information for adaptation
    • 7.2 Barriers to information provision
    • 7.3 Barriers to information use
  • Chapter 8 Local government
    • 8.1 Adaptation at the local government level
    • 8.2 Roles and responsibilities for adaptation
    • 8.3 Inadequate local government capacity
    • 8.4 Legal liability as a barrier to adaptation
  • Chapter 9 Land-use planning
    • 9.1 Planning regulation incorporates climate change risks tovarying extents
    • 9.2 Incorporating climate change adaptation in land-use planning
  • Chapter 10 Building regulation
    • 10.1 Building regulation in Australia
    • 10.2 Climate change and building regulation
    • 10.3 Potential barriers to considering climate change in buildingregulation
    • 10.4 Interactions between land‑use planning and buildingregulation
  • Chapter 11 Existing settlements
    • 11.1 Protect, accommodate or retreat
    • 11.2 Cross-cutting issues
    • 11.3 An independent public inquiry into managing climate changerisks to existing settlements
  • Chapter 12 Provision and regulation of infrastructure
    • 12.1 How is infrastructure provided?
    • 12.2 Potential barriers to climate change adaptation
    • 12.3 Can investment and regulatory practices be improved?
  • Chapter 13 Emergency management
    • 13.1 Current arrangements
    • 13.2 Inadequate governance andinstitutional arrangements
    • 13.3 Recent reforms
    • 13.4 Disaster mitigation
    • 13.5 Disaster recovery: the Natural Disaster Relief and RecoveryArrangements
    • 13.6 Getting the balance right
  • Chapter 14 Environmental management
    • 14.1 Climate change and the environment
    • 14.2 Barriers to effective adaptation
    • 14.3 Supporting adaptive capacity
  • Chapter 15 The health system
    • 15.1 Effective adaptation in the health system
  • Chapter 16 The role of insurance
    • 16.1 Insurance in a changing climate
    • 16.2 Factors affecting insurance costs and provision
    • 16.3 Reforms to insurance regulations
  • Chapter 17 Reform priorities
    • 17.1 Two groups of reforms
    • 17.2 Who should implement adaptation reforms?
    • 17.3 Reform options that should not be pursued
  • Appendix A Public consultation
  • References

The following appendixes are not included in the printed copy of this report.

Printed copies

Printed copies of the full report can be purchased from Canprint Communications.

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