Community - Climate Change Report

Next three years critical to reduce bushfire threat: new report.

Critical decisions on climate change at a local level are needed within the next three years to keep communities on track to avert even more dangerous impacts, such as extreme heatwaves and heightened bushfire weather in the Hawkesbury, according to a new report from the Climate Council.

The Critical Decade 2017: Accelerating Climate Action, has found that New South Wales faces serious climate impacts, including increasingly dangerous bushfire seasons that start earlier and last for longer, unless drastic cuts are made to carbon pollution. The report warns that the Forest Fire Danger Index will increase by 30% in southeast Australia, spelling a longer fire season and an increase in severe fire weather days.

However, solutions are in sight, with the report championing the emergence of state and local government agencies such as Hawkesbury City Council as climate leaders, and the rapid growth of renewable power, such as solar and wind, something that the Mayor of Hawkesbury, Mary Lyons-Buckett wants to embrace.

“This year we’ve already seen record-breaking heat in winter and early spring, escalating our bushfire threat,” Mayor Lyons-Buckett said.

“Longer, more intense bushfire seasons already put immense stress on our local medical and fire services - and it’s only set to get worse unless we act on climate change.

“As this report notes, this is the critical decade to ramp up action on climate change and local government has an important role to play - that’s why we’re accelerating our move to clean energy and reducing emissions by using solar power.”

Climate Councillor Professor Will Steffen said: "The pressure is on for Australia to do its fair share towards tackling climate change, and state and local governments are emerging as important players. We need to build on this action to create an integrated policy response at all levels of government to reduce Australia's emissions rapidly and deeply."

He continued: "Despite inaction at the federal level, Australia's transition to clean energy is gaining momentum, bringing with it opportunities for economic growth and increases in employment."

Report Key Findings Include:

● Australia is highly vulnerable to many of the consequences of a changing climate, from worsening heatwaves, droughts and bushfires, to devastating coral reef bleaching, and most of our population centres being exposed to sea level rise.
● Climate change has increased the frequency and/or intensity of many extreme weather events – heatwaves, bushfire weather, coastal flooding, and drought.
● Extreme weather will worsen further if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

Climate Council CEO Amanda Mckenzie commended state and local governments leading the transition to clean, reliable and affordable renewable energy and storage technology.

“Local governments are rolling up their sleeves to find climate change solutions, with many councils setting their own ambitious clean energy targets. We’re increasingly seeing councils turn to renewables to power major infrastructure projects, from Australia’s biggest floating solar farm in Lismore through to an entirely off-grid water treatment plant in Logan City that will service 400,000 homes,” she said.

“The transition to 21st century energy is happening, regardless of the state of Australian politics. Australia is a world leader in household rooftop solar; more than 1.6 million households have rooftop solar systems installed. However, the Federal Government needs to change its energy policies to support and accelerate the many effective actions on climate change that are already being undertaken by states, territories and local governments.”

Page ID: 101389