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Notice given 23 March 2007

Senator Milne: To move—

(1) That the Senate notes that:

(a) the 4th assessment report of the Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in February 2007, indicates that sea levels will rise by between 0.18 metres to 0.59 metres by the end of the century and that these projections do not include the full effects of changes in ice sheet flow because a basis in published literature is lacking;

(b) the next IPCC report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, to be released in April 2007, is expected to conclude that there is a medium confidence, that is a 50 per cent chance, that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets would be committed to partial deglaciation for a global average temperature increase greater than 1 o to 2 o C, causing a sea level rise of 4 to 6 metres over centuries to millennia;


 (c) recent scientific research, published too late for inclusion in the IPCC reports, suggest that sea levels are rising more quickly than previously thought and many scientists, including Dr James Hansen, head of Atmospheric Research for the National Aeuronautics and Space Administration, warn that a warming of 2 o to 3 o C could melt the ice sheets of West Antarctica and parts of Greenland resulting in a sea level rise of 5 metres within a century;

(d) the assessment of the impact of even a moderate sea level rise in Australia remains inadequate for adaptation planning;

(e) assessing the vulnerability of low coastal and estuarine regions requires not only mapping height above sea level but must take into account factors such as coastal morphology, susceptibility to long-shore erosion, near shore bathymetry and storm surge frequency;

(f) delaying analysis of the risk of sea level rise exacerbates the likelihood that such information may affect property values and investment through disclosure of increased hazards and possible reduced or more expensive insurance cover; and

(g) an early response to the threat of a rise in sea level may include avoiding investment in long-lived infrastructure in high risk areas.

(2) That the following matter be referred to the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Committee for inquiry and report by 20 September 2007:

An assessment of the risks associated with projected rises in sea levels around Australia, including an appraisal of:

(a) ecological, social and economic impacts;

(b) adaptation and mitigation strategies;

(c) knowledge gaps and research needs; and

(d) options to communicate risks and vulnerabilities to the Australian community.