Page 4992 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 28 November 2018
ecological values, adequate preparedness for bushfires, and the other risk factors that we need to take into account.
The government also takes on board the advice of the Bushfire Council, which has members with experience in fire sciences, land management, firefighting, Indigenous land management and environmental factors as well as representation from rural leaseholders and the community, as I just touched on.
I also would like to talk about the amendment that I am proposing, which is about the serious impact that climate change is having and will have on bushfires in the ACT and, in fact, around the world. Mrs Jones is talking about prescribed burns because she is concerned about the risk of fires and about keeping Canberrans safe. She should also then be concerned about climate change. I think it is important that we add climate change to this motion as something that should always be on the agenda of this Assembly and certainly when we are talking about mitigating the risk of fires.
The reason we need to address this is that climate change is affecting our fire risk now, today. It is predicted to worsen in the future, but we are already suffering the impacts. Repeatedly, our temperatures are breaking records. We are breaking records for summer heat, for reduced rainfall, for extreme fire danger, for all kinds of metrics that dramatically increase the risk of bushfires and the consequences of bushfires. We will see an increase in the amount of extreme fire days, the length and severity of heatwaves, the number of extreme weather events.
A Climate Council report in 2016 found that the direct effects of a three to four-degree Celsius temperature increase in the ACT—and we are currently on track for that—could more than double fire frequency and increase fire intensity by 20 per cent. The report found the economic cost of bushfires in New South Wales and the ACT in 2016 was approximately $100 million.
Those annual costs are projected to more than double by 2050. These figures are so staggering that it can be hard to digest them but we certainly cannot ignore them. It is because of these climatic changes that we saw the start of the bushfire season this year brought forward a month to 1 September. The same kinds of changes are being made around the world as climactic conditions change due to global warming.
In the context of the concerns that Mrs Jones raised, historically September is a time in which a range of burning gets done. It is a tricky time because it can also be quite a windy season. And we all know September particularly in Canberra can be very windy. But it has always been one of the windows. With bushfire season coming forward, it underlines the diminishing window there is for burning opportunities. There is nothing surprising about some of the data I have just described and the circumstances. It is predicted that climate change would result in these sorts of consequences in a range of scientific models.
It is not yet summer in Australia—it will be in few days time—but we are already seeing serious, dangerous bushfires. We have of course seen the bushfires currently raging in Queensland. We have seen the reports of those in our news headlines this morning. And those reports say that Queensland will be lucky to make it through the