Written By: Emma Websdale
The number of Australian firefighters will need to double by 2030 in order to cope with the increased risk of bushfires caused by climate change, warns a new report.
According to the Australian Climate Council first report, Be Prepared: The Changing Climate and Australia’s Bushfire Threat, the consequences of climate change –hotter days, drier regions and extended and more frequent heatwaves –are increasing the likelihood of bushfires.
The report says that over the last 30 years extreme fire weather has increased in Australia, with the country just experiencing its hottest 12 months on record.
Areas most vulnerable to the risk of bushfire include the southwest and southeast, where already the fire weather season has extended into October and March.
The report warns that as fire conditions become heightened by climate change, the length of the fire season will expand further, reducing the overall amount of time that can be used for safe hazard reduction burning. In order to keep pace with Australia’s increased risk of bushfire frequency and intensity, twice as many professional firefighters will be needed by 2030, compared to 2010 numbers.
The Climate Council suggests that disaster risk reduction and adaptation policy implementation alongside the increase in firefighter numbers will provide a “critical role in reducing risks to people and human assets”.
To tackle climate change impacts, the report urges Australia to reduce its carbon emissions rapidly and to engage deeply in global efforts to stabilize the world’s climate.
Australia’s extreme weather conditions have also been linked to a recent decline in the country’s native Koala population. With as few as 43,000 Koalas remaining in the wild, the increased risk of heatwaves and bushfires poses a significant threat to the species’ survival.