Climate Summit for Local Government

Sept 6-8, 2023 | Melbourne

A NEW report showing the country’s beaches are copping the brunt of damage from climate change has prompted the Byron Shire Council to take action.

The new report, Icons at Risk: Climate Change Threatening Australian Tourism, also warns of threats to Australia’s tourism industry driven by increasing extreme weather events.

Beaches are listed in the top five natural destinations at risk, including locations across the New South Wales North Coast. Beaches are listed as Australia’s favourite tourist destination and are threatened by beach erosion and rising sea levels, driven by worsening climate change.

Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson, a founding member of the Cities Power Partnership, said the council was actively working to protect Byron’s tourism by increasing its reliance on renewable energy and cutting greenhouse gas pollution.

“The tourist industry is a cornerstone of our economy, and our beaches are a cornerstone of who we are as a local community, and through the Cities Power Partnership, we’re rolling up our sleeves to do what we can to protect our most valuable assets,” he said.

“That’s why Byron Shire Council is part of this initiative. We’re joining 70 other councils, representing more than eight million Australians, supporting our community’s transition to clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy.

“I would encourage all New South Wales councils to do the same.”

The report’s key finding was that Australia’s beaches were the mainstay of the tourism industry – ranked our number one attraction by international visitors.

Surveys of tourist responses to beach damage scenarios suggest 17-23% would respond by switching destinations.

Climate councillor and ecologist Professor Lesley Hughes said Byron’s booming tourism industry could be hurt, unless urgent action was taken to tackle climate change.

“Local councils such as Byron Shire are accelerating the community’s shift to renewable energy through programs such as the Cities Power Partnership,” she said.

“We have the opportunity to build a sustainable tourism sector that will continue to attract millions of visitors for years to come.”

This article first appeared on Byron Shire News on 9 February 2018