Coastal Risk, Climate Change, Sea Levels & Fremantle

CoreLogic, the leading property data company, has just reported that $25 billion in Australian residential property is exposed to high coastal risk.

In the report’s conclusion, CoreLogic say that identifying coastal risk has never been more urgent than today. They explain that according to the latest IPCC report released in August 2021, sea level rise, combined with potentially more extreme climate episodes such as cyclones or storms, will only increase coastal risk in Australia.

Lancelin, WA. Credit James Carmody ABC News

Coastal properties are therefore more at risk than ever. CoreLogic notes Australia’s attraction to its coastal areas and waterfront properties is well established. This has led to significant property development along stretches of shoreline and around popular coastal towns in the last 30 years. At the same time, property values have risen significantly with a correlated increase in value closer to the shore, resulting in more wealth at risk from the compounding environmental hazards.

CoreLogic reasonably add that understanding the coastal risk associated with those properties is important to every owner, potential buyer and ultimately the banking and finance sector that is supporting the expansion of new coastal properties in number and in value.

Consequently, credit risk and long-term loans are directly impacted by these natural trends. Equally, for any financial institution, it is important to evaluate the potential downturn in property values or the concentration of wealth at risk.

Port Beach, Fremantle. Credit Jean Hudson

Increasing coastal risk is also adding pressure on insurance rates. Property owners face increasing insurance premiums and restricted insurance coverage, together diminishing their insurance affordability and protection of their significant assets.

Where is Fremantle in all this, we can hear you asking.

Well we don’t figure in the top 10 residential areas in Australia, or the top 5 in WA, by value of exposed properties.

Here’s the top 5 WA areas are –

The last four columns represent the number of homes, apartments and apartment dwellings, as well as their value in millions of dollars in each area.

Fremantle may not be listed, but to the naked eye we occupy large areas of low lying lands close to the coast. The fact we may not make the CoreLogic list of high value areas at risk is neither here nor there.

We also have infrastructure like the Inner Harbour, the Outer Harbour, the other harbours – Challenger, Fishing Boat and Success – not to mention the historic West End of Fremantle.

Just what our practical exposure and risk levels are is not clear, but we are sure we’d all like to know.

Satellite images show the Conger ice shelf in Antarctica has collapsed, scientists report. Credit upi.com. Photo courtesy of Stef Lhermitte/Twitter.

The news this week about the break up of the Conger ice shelf has got everyone talking yet again, about sea level rise possibilities. For the time being no great increase in sea levels is expected.

However, scientists are particularly concerned about the future of the Florida-sized Thwaites glacier – also nicknamed the “doomsday glacier” – which contains enough water to raise sea levels globally by more than half a metre.

Professor Matt King, an Australian Antarctica expert, has observed: “The speed of the breakup of [the Conger] ice shelf reminds us that things can change quickly. Our carbon emissions will have an impact in Antarctica, and Antarctica will come back to bite the rest of the world’s coastlines and it may happen faster than we think.”

Food for thought, and Freo plainly is not exempt from all the worry and concern.

Just what precautions the Federal and State governments and local governments like the City of Freo, and significant authorities like Fremantle Ports, have put in place to deal with the risks identified in the CoreLogic report we don’t know, but assume exist, and look forward to learning more about.

Do let us know if you do.

* By Michael Barker, Editor, Fremantle Shipping News

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