EMERGENCY LEADERS FOR CLIMATE ACTION (ELCA) has released a new national plan to help protect Australians from an unprecedented era of climate-fuelled bushfires.
The Australian Bushfire and Climate Plan, developed with more than 150 experts and affected community members at the National Bushfire and Climate Summit 2020, outlines 165 recommendations for more effective bushfire readiness, response, and recovery.
“Climate change has pushed Australia into a new bushfire era where we must fundamentally rethink how we prepare for and manage this growing threat,” said Climate Councillor and former Fire & Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins.
“This plan outlines practical steps that all levels of government can take right now to better protect communities. It’s important that the Federal Government takes these recommendations seriously and acts on them urgently. "First and foremost, the Federal Government must tackle the root cause of climate change by urgently phasing out fossil fuels to reach net zero emissions. We also hope they will be included in the Royal Commission’s final report,” said Mr Mullins.
Nicki Hutley, Partner, Deloitte Access Economics, said: “The economic cost of extreme weather events in Australia is growing, and set to reach $39 billion per year by 2050.”
Key recommendations (out of 165 total recommendations)
Set up a national climate disaster fund to meet climate-fuelled disaster costs and build resilience—paid through a fossil fuel producer levy
Better resource fire and land management agencies to manage fuels, and rapidly detect and attack new outbreaks
Add medium and large aerial firefighting capability to Australian fire services
Create an Indigenous-led National Cultural Fire Strategy to complement and inform fuel management by agencies
Establish an independent insurance price monitor so that Australians in disaster-prone areas can insure and be more resilient
Continue Telehealth so that people in bushfire-affected areas can access remote healthcare.
"Climate change, which is fuelling more severe extreme weather events and worsening bushfire danger, has serious economic consequences,” Ms Hutley, who contributed to the report, said.
"Reducing emissions, building community resilience, and boosting emergency resourcing can help us avoid huge economic impacts and damage in the future, while creating clean new jobs right now,” said Ms Hutley.
Climate Councillor and public health physician Dr Kate Charlesworth said: “Australia’s summer of fires saw more than 400 deaths and more than 4,000 hospitalisations from bushfire smoke.
“The climate-health crisis is affecting Australians now, and is the number one threat to people’s health in the long-term. We urgently need a national climate and health strategy to protect Australians,” said Dr Charlesworth.