Council takes climate change stance to help reduce premiums
THE council is set to take serious action on climate change in a bid to stem inflating insurance premiums and costs for residents.
A report, written by Griffith University's Ian Edwards, was discussed at the ordinary meeting in Proserpine on Tuesday and outlined the challenges and opportunities the council could face in funding climate change adaptation schemes.
The report revealed extreme weather events were expected to drive up maintenance and replacement costs of council assets and demand for council services.
It was also projected to take a big toll on insurance premiums, where "as risk increases, so does price".
Mayor Andrew Willcox said it was important for the council to review the report and start planning for future impacts so residents would not be hit with even higher costs.
"(The report) raises awareness and gives us an opportunity for planning," he said.
"We've got time, so let's just have a look at this.
"(Insurance) is a huge problem for everyone in the Whitsundays and even more would certainly be if our premiums were jacked up.
"But the bottom line is, insurance always prices in the maximum amount of risk, so by us actually becoming aware and doing some planning we might be able to put in some mitigation strategies where we can say, 'hang on, we're addressing these risks these ways'.
"Then we can arm ourselves with some science, with some data, to actually push back and see if we can get a better deal for us and everyone in the Whitsundays."
The report outlined a number of ways the council could raise funds to assist in preparing for the impacts of climate change including rates and user charges, interest, fines and developer charges, state or federal grants and philanthropic funds.
The council was also encouraged to "think creatively" about solutions and fundraising measures.
Among some ideas floated in the report was a contribution from the owners of foreshore properties exposed to coastal hazards and residents, tourists and businesses who use coastal areas.
However, it was argued this could create tensions between residents and the council.
Therefore, schemes such as green bonds from banks and reduced interest on loans for specific energy efficiency projects were also put forward.
These could add to measures already in place by the council, such as a focus on solar power in water infrastructure projects.
While the report stated there was no "silver bullet" in climate change finance, it argued action needed to be taken sooner rather than later to reduce the burden on the council.