‘This is Not Normal’: Climate change and escalating bushfire risk

14 November 2019


Australian bushfire

Image © Aldo Manganaro from Getty Images Pro | Canva

The Climate Council has released a new briefing paper ‘This is Not Normal’: Climate Change and Escalating Bushfire Risk which finds the catastrophic fire conditions affecting Queensland and New South Wales have been aggravated by climate change.

There has been some debate around the role of climate change in exacerbating these fires. To provide accurate information, the Climate Council has been working with data provided by the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, major Australian universities and other credible scientific sources.

Key findings

  1. The catastrophic, unprecedented fire conditions currently affecting NSW and Queensland have been aggravated by climate change. Bushfire risk was exacerbated by record-breaking drought, very dry fuels and soils, and record-breaking heat.
  2. Bushfire conditions are now more dangerous than in the past. The risks to people and property have increased and fire seasons have lengthened. It is becoming more dangerous to fight fires in Australia.
  3. The fire season has lengthened so substantially that it has already reduced opportunities for fuel reduction burning. This means it is harder to prepare for worsening conditions.
  4. The costs of fighting fires are increasing. Australia relies on resource sharing arrangements between countries and states and territories within Australia. As seasons overlap and fires become more destructive, governments will be increasingly constrained in their ability to share resources and the costs of tackling fires will increase.
  5. The government must develop an urgent plan to
    1. prepare Australian communities, health and emergency services for escalating fire danger; and
    2. rapidly phase out the burning of coal oil and gas which is driving more dangerous fires.

The full briefing paper is available to read here.


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