Time to "slam the brakes" on the climate crisis as third cyclone threat looms for Queensland

With threats of yet another tropical cyclone looming over the Coral Sea, a sobering truth has emerged: climate change is no longer a distant threat but an immediate issue for all Queenslanders.

The Bureau of Meteorology says a tropical cyclone may be forming off Queensland's coast at the moment, barely a week after Cyclone Kirrily made landfall near Townsville and drenched the south-east, causing devastating flooding in the Western Downs, Lockyer Valley, Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay regions where disaster assessments are still underway.

The Queensland Conservation Council finds the potential of a third tropical cyclone threatening Queensland in a matter of months to be a stark reminder that we must not only reduce emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change but also invest in climate adaptation.

Queensland Conservation Council Climate Lead Jenny Brown said:

"These cyclone and extreme flooding events have shown that it is not enough to simply ease off the accelerator of warming – we need to slam on the brakes with full force.

"Extreme weather events are increasing in their frequency, and will continue to exponentially do so as the climate crisis unfolds.

"We've seen how floods have devastated communities in Inner North Brisbane, some that have already experienced flooding in previous years, such as 2022. Far North Queensland has been devastated by two cyclone threats in a matter of weeks this storm season.

"Queensland's emissions reductions targets of 75% by 2035 have set our ambition, and now we need to urgently ensure that legislation translates those targets into tangible action.

"Setting goals is the first step - now we need to ensure they have teeth. This is our best chance to combat the escalating climate crisis.

"The impact of flooding extends beyond human communities, posing a grave threat to our native forests and animals by contaminating water bodies and disrupting delicate ecological balance; it's imperative that we prioritise emission reduction strategies aligned with nature to address this urgency for resilient solutions.

"The floods would have been a lot worse without mangroves and green spaces. These are more than just trees; they are our first line of defence against floods. They adeptly absorb floodwaters and shield our communities from devastation. Without them, the consequences would be catastrophic.

"To effectively address climate impacts, we must adopt nature-based solutions that build resilience against the escalating impacts of climate change. Nature-based solutions offer precisely that - sustainable, adaptive measures that evolve alongside the changing climate."

Photograph of ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily on 26/01/2024: Bureau of Meteorology/EPA