By Celine Lai

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, known as the Bushfire Royal Commission, was established on 20 February 2020 in response to the extreme bushfire season of 2019-2020 which resulted in devastating loss of life, property and wildlife, and environmental destruction across the nation.

The goal of the Commission was to consider national natural disaster coordination arrangements. This meant looking to the future.  Click HERE to download the report.

As the events of the 2019-2020 bushfire season show, what was formerly unprecedented is now our future.

The findings and recommendations of the 594 page report was based upon extensive evidence, from more than 270 witnesses, almost 80,000 pages of tendered documents, and more than 1,750 public submissions.

The Commission reports that as the Australian public expected greater Australian Government action,  the inquiry required them to consider the roles and responsibilities of all levels of governments in relation to natural disasters.

The Report states that disasters have changed, as follows.

Extreme weather has already become more frequent and intense because of climate change; further global warming over the next 20 to 30 years is inevitable. Globally, temperatures will continue to rise, and Australia will have more hot days and fewer cool days. Sea levels are also projected to continue to rise. Tropical cyclones are projected to decrease in number, but increase in intensity. Floods and bushfires are expected to become more frequent and more intense. Catastrophic fire conditions may render traditional bushfire prediction models and firefighting techniques less effective. 

To make Australia more resilient to natural disasters demands action on multiple fronts. We need to do much more than put out fires. A resilient nation will seek to mitigate the risk of disasters through a wide range of measures, and it will attend to all of the complex and sometimes long-term consequences.

Source:  page 22 of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements report.

Did you know that the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action have released an Australian Bushfire & Climate Action Plan? You can support the implementation of the plan by clicking HERE and sharing the information.

Climate-driven natural hazards are expected to become more frequent and intense

Page 59 of the Royal Commission’s report states that the Commission heard that Australia’s climate is ‘virtually certain’ to get warmer.  There are three factors that determine the climate, and hence climate risks, in future scenarios: ongoing natural climate variability; global socio-economic development and the resulting emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols; and how the climate responds at a regional level to these emissions. The Commission advocates that:

Strong adaptation measures are necessary to respond to the impacts of climate change. Page 122 states:

CSIRO has been undertaking long-term, regional climate projections since around 1992. The most recent set of nationally consistent climate projections for regional Australia was delivered by CSIRO and BoM in 2015 through the Climate Change in Australia project.  Currently there is a patchwork of climate datasets across Australia. 

Australia does not have an authoritative agreed set of climate change scenarios for the nation, nor standardised guidance on how to interpret and use these scenarios consistently.

Page 127 reports that in March 2020, the Australian Government’s independent Climate Change Authority published a report Prospering in a low-emissions world: an updated climate policy toolkit for Australia.   The report recommends that the Government pursue policies to position Australia to meet our 2030 Paris Agreement target using emissions reductions achieved between 2021 and 2030 and to meet the subsequent, more ambitious targets that will necessarily follow.

The “Bushfire Royal Commission Report” (as the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements is known as) has 24 chapters and is essential reading. There are 80 recommendations which are itemised for each Chapter from page 34 to page 46.  The Report covers what action has been taken and what needs to be done.

Chapter Title
1 Introduction
2 Natural Disaster Risk
3 National Coordination Arrangements
4 Supporting Better Decisions
5 Declaration of National Emergency
6 National Emergency Response Capability
7 Role of the Australian Defence Force
8 National Aerial Firefighting Capabilities and Arrangements
9 Essential Services
10 Community Education
11 Emergency Planning
12 Evacuation Planning and Shelters
13 Emergency Information and Warnings
14 Air Quality
15 Health
16 Wildlife and Heritage
17 Public and Private Land Management
18 Indigenous Land and Fire Management
19 Land-use Planning and Building Regulation
20 Insurance
21 Coordinating Relief and Recovery
22 Delivery of recovery services and financial assistance
23 National Research and Emerging Technology
24 Assurance and Accountability
End Notes

 

ELCA, the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, are tracking the Federal Government’s response to 10 priority recommendations from the report. You can track the responses too, at:

https://emergencyleadersforclimateaction.org.au/bushfire-royal-commission-accountability-tracker

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE

  1. Please download and read and share the “Bushfire Royal Commission Report.” 
  2. Follow ELCA’s tracking of the Government’s responses to the report’s recommendations.
  3. Sign the petition to implement ELCA’s recommendations at:  https://www.change.org/Scott-Morrison-apply-ELCA-plan

SBS Television has reported that the Commonwealth Government said that it accepted all recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (Bushfire Royal Commission Report).

On Thursday 5 November, the Commonwealth Government convened a meeting of all Australian Emergency Management Ministers regarding the findings of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

Ministers agreed to agree that something has to be done and agreed upon what little has already been done.  PLEASE keep up the pressure to implement all recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements urgently.  

Monitor the Minister’s taskforce by bookmarking the pages below, and sharing them.

https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/davidlittleproud/Pages/Welcome.aspx

https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/davidlittleproud/Pages/sky-news-live-30102020.aspx

The key recommendations of the Report are outlined by the Climate Council at the page below.

https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/unpacking-bushfire-royal-commision-report