The Australian Productivity Commission has released its draft report, "Barriers to Climate Change Adaptation", which aims to identify high priority reforms needed to enable effective adaptation to climate change.

The report says that the weight of scientific evidence is that the climate is changing and will continue to do so and that Australians will need to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate. The changes include average temperatures and sea levels rising, rainfall patterns changing and increasing risk of extreme weather events.

It says that helping people, business and government deal with changes that have already apparent, such as climate variability and increased extreme weather, should be a priority.

Doing this will require:

  • reducing tax, transfer and regulatory arrangements that impede the mobility of labour and capital,
  • improving information on climate risks,
  • clarifying the roles and responsibilities of local governments,
  • improving emergency management arrangements and
  • avoiding regulatory distortions in insurance markets.

The report says that governments should also be taking preparatoory action to help manage longer term future effects of climate change. This includes:

  • producing and disseminating localised climate projections,
  • designing flexible planning regulation to respond to uncertain climate change impacts, and
  • developing approaches to managing risks to existing settlements.