A national bushfire plan has been released by the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, aiming to protect Australians in future bushfire seasons as climate change becomes a growing threat.
TheAustralian Bushfire and Climate Plan, launched in Sydney on Thursday last week, outlines 165 recommendations for more effective bushfire readiness, response, and recovery.
The report was developed at the National Climate and Bushfire Summit 2020, held in June and July, by more than 150 experts at affected community members from across the country.
Climate Councillor and former Fire & Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said climate change has meant that a "rethink" of preparation and management of bushfires is required.
"This plan outlines practical steps that all levels of government can take right now to better protect communities," Mr Mullins said.
"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."
Some of the key recommendations in the report include:
- 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.
Nicki Hutley, Partner, Deloitte Access Economics, contributed to the report, and said the economic cost of extreme weather events in Australia is growing, set to reach $39 billion per year by 2050.
"Climate change, which is fuelling more severe extreme weather events and worsening bushfire danger, has serious economic consequences," Ms Hutley 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."
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Climate Councillor and public health physician Kate Charlesworth said there was an urgent need for a national climate and health strategy.
"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," she said.
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