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Property prices more important to Aussies than climate change

Lucy Dean
Seaside suburbs are at great risk from climate change. Image: Getty
Seaside suburbs are at great risk from climate change. Image: Getty

By the end of the century, sea levels could rise 1.1 metres in a worst-case climate scenario, putting hundreds of thousands of Australian homes at risk.

And according to a new study, the increased likelihood of flooding is prompting sea-side homeowners to deny climate change.

Concerns about climate change’s negative impacts on the price of their homes should they be classed as flood-prone is linked to a greater disbelief in climate change, the study published in the Global Environmental Change journal found.

“While debates continue over how to mitigate emissions, it is evident that many parts of the world will need to adapt to an increasingly unstable climate,” authors Vanessa Bowden, Daniel Nyberg and Christopher Wright wrote.

“However, the persistence of climate denial presents a significant barrier to climate change response; if a future in which the climate has dramatically changed cannot be imagined, there is little motivation to act.”

The Australian study which tracked motivations and priorities of residents living at the NSW central coast town Lake Macquarie as the local council consider identifying the areas in the town which were at risk of rising sea levels.

Locals, however, were concerned by the idea which they said would lead to a fall in their home values and an increase in insurance premiums.

“While the local council engaged in extensive consultation to develop an adaptation plan, community opposition to proposed development changes ultimately resulted in a ‘wait and see’ response,” the researchers from the University of Newcastle and the University of Newcastle said.

It warned that these mentalities, and a resulting society-wide climate denial, mean communities are unable to plan for a “climate changed future”.

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) said home-buyers these days need to include a climate check along with their pest inspections when they consider purchasing a property.

“While ensuring your home is built to withstand the harsh Australian climate has always been important, in today’s world, weather and environmental conditions are being more carefully considered,” said REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella.

“With the government estimating increases in temperature, drought periods and bushfires, along with rising sea levels over the next few decades, home owners need to research whether or not these risk-factors are relevant to the area in which they’re looking to buy.”

Mercorella suggested buyers also research the weather history of the area.

“Has there been any major flooding, fire or severe storms in the surrounding areas? What damage resulted from those events?

“It’s also a good idea to see if there are any restrictions or exclusions on insurance, or higher-than-usual premiums.

“You can also contact the local council to see if they have any information relating to flooding, climate change or other weather conditions that might impact the property, now or in the future.”

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