Minister launches plan to help state’s emergency services combat climate change

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford today (Friday) launched the Emergency Management Sector Adaptation Plan (EM-SAP) – which will help Queensland prepare for, respond to and recover from the impact of climate change.

Speaking in Cairns, Mr Crawford said the new plan – led by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) – would help ensure “we are ready to deal with climate-related weather extremes”.

“Responding effectively to climate change is one of the Palaszczuk Government’s priorities and requires a collaborative effort,” Mr Crawford said.

“As an emergency management sector, we must constantly examine the risks that we are challenged by now and scan the horizon for what may be emerging.

“The changes in the frequency and intensity of climate extremes, coupled with population growth and urban expansion are likely to increase the exposure and risk to Queensland communities.”

The EM-SAP was created in partnership with the Department of Environment and Science (DES), who contributed $60,000 towards the project, and the Griffith University National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF).

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said the plan outlined eight priorities, including sector-specific climate risks and increasing the resilience of critical infrastructure.

“Government and non-government sectors have worked together on this project to identify activities already underway and to prioritise climate adaptation needs,” Ms Enoch said.

“This plan will support the emergency management sector to be innovative and resilient in managing the risks of climate change.”

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the EM-SAP formed part of the government’s response to climate change under the Queensland Climate Adaptation Strategy 2017-2030.

“The state’s far north is no stranger to severe weather and it is important the emergency management sector can better understand the current and future risk from climate change,” Mr Healy said.

“The EM-SAP has been developed by the sector – for the sector. It provides a vision and a series of principles and priorities to achieve it.”

QFES Deputy Commissioner Mike Wassing said it was vital Queensland’s emergency sector had a climate change plan.

“Queensland often experiences climate extremes including floods, droughts, heatwaves and bushfires and is exposed to a range of hazards that can lead to significant consequences for our communities,” he said.

“The implications this can have for emergency and disaster management sector means risk management strategies must be continuously enhanced to ensure we have a plan to address the anticipated impacts of climate change.”

Forty-four State Government and Non-Government Organisations contributed to the development of EM-SAP, with contributions from the Far Northern Region including Cairns Regional Council. A project steering committee also played a key role in building EM-SAP.

Cairns Regional Council Deputy Mayor and Local Disaster Management Group Chair Cr Terry James said local governments needed to prepare for the consequences of climate change.

“We recognise that our coastal communities are facing increased threats from erosion, storm tide flooding and rising sea levels,” Cr James said.

“That is why it is so important all levels of government work together to assess risks and identify practical solutions that will help them prepare for the threat of climate change.”

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