An end to fossil fuel subsidies, a massive boost in resilience funding and a National Adaptation and Disaster Strategy are just some of the measures the Climate Council and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) are calling for ahead of another hard summer.
The Climate Council and ELCA’s The great deluge: Australia’s new era of unnatural disasters report warns that an escalation of ‘unnatural disasters’ that are leaving less time for communities to recover has rendered our nation’s current disaster planning and management systems unfit for purpose.
“Australians will remember 2022 as the year of the ‘great deluge’, when record-breaking rain and floods, supercharged by climate change, left a trail of devastation from Queensland down to Tasmania,” Professor Lesley Hughes, Climate Councillor and Professor Emerita, Macquarie University, said.
“The climate risk to Australians is likely to remain high over the coming summer, with more rain and flooding expected in saturated catchments, a high chance of more tropical cyclones, and warnings of a major Japanese Encephalitis outbreak that could affect up to 750,000 people.
“Australians are footing the multi-billion dollar damage bill from climate-fuelled worsening floods, bushfires, droughts, heatwaves, and storms while the coal, gas and oil companies fuelling climate destruction are raking in piles of cash and paying little to no income tax.
“There is nothing natural about these disasters. They are being unleashed on Australians by decades of reliance on fossil fuels. In Australia, these same companies are enjoying billions in public subsidies. It’s high time we end fossil fuel subsidies and use the savings to create a climate disaster fund so that we can help communities deal with the fallout of compounding and worsening disasters.”
Greg Mullins AO AFSM, former Commissioner of NSW Fire and Rescue and founder, Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, said: “Australia’s current disaster planning and management systems are struggling to keep up with escalating disaster threats fuelled by climate change.
“In recent years, we have seen emergency responders overwhelmed by the scale, speed, and severity of extreme weather events, like the 2022 floods and Black Summer bushfires. Long-term recovery operations are also more challenging because disasters are striking more frequently.
“We need to make our disaster management systems fit-for-purpose in the face of worsening climate disasters. Governments must invest in emergency services, better disaster management coordination, more accurate risk models, and community resilience programmes.”