Support for fossil fuel firms to pay for climate damage


Many Australians believe the toll on communities from more severe storms, floods and bushfires should be covered by coal, oil and gas firms.

Launching a report on Wednesday, independent senator David Pocock said increasing climate disasters couldn't become the new normal as calls grow for tougher taxes on fossil fuel producers and users.

Senator Pocock said there needed to be accelerated action and more ambitious climate change policy.

"Communities right around the country are already feeling the devastating impacts from more extreme weather events and natural disasters, which are only getting worse," he said.

Respondents to an Australia Institute survey supported a polluter pays tax (74 per cent), windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry (66 per cent) and a levy on fossil fuel exports to fund climate adaptation (59 per cent).

Three-quarters of those polled expect climate change to result in more expensive insurance premiums and fear climate-related disruptions to supply chains will make it harder to buy essential goods.

Ex-Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said the insurance premiums in her community had already gone up after major flooding.

She said hikes were in the order of $1000 to $30,000 and this was before additional flood insurance was factored in and that had become a determining factor for some people about whether they stayed in the NSW Northern Rivers region.

"Many people cannot source insurance at all, which means that they can't get a mortgage," she said.

Ms Dowell said other needs included where people would move to after flooding and the cost of house buybacks.

"Our community is in limbo. I cannot speak loudly enough to say do not forget Lismore and all the flood communities, the bushfire communities around Australia, we need action," she said.

"We need all governments at all levels to take action with better planning regimes for local government (and at) state and federal level, but also for financial assistance to come in to help the communities that are currently suffering."

Polly Hemming, climate and energy director at the Australia Institute, said communities and households were feeling the pinch from challenges on multiple fronts.

Rising electricity prices were blamed on profit-seeking electricity companies and poor policy making rather than climate impacts.

"Australians want those who are profiting from the climate crisis to pay for the damage they are causing," she said.

The Climate of the Nation research is Australia's longest continuous survey of community attitudes to climate change.

Meanwhile, a group of protesters in Wallabies jerseys and made up as zombies gathered outside Parliament House on Wednesday to protest against resource company Santos' sponsorship of rugby.

The Dead Wallabies called on the government to ban fossil fuel sponsorships and advertisements, in recognition that they are the main cause of global warming.