NEW SOUTH WALES is facing increasingly dangerous bushfire seasons, commencing earlier
and lasting longer as a result of intensifying climate change, according to a new Climate Council
The ‘ Earlier, More Frequent, More Dangerous: Bushfires in New South Wales’, report shows
climate change exacerbated the record breaking heat in winter and early spring, sparking
dangerous fire conditions across the state and much of Australia.
“These severe conditions led the Rural Fire Service to declare an early start to the bushfire
danger season across a number of regions in New South Wales,” said Climate Councillor and
ecologist, Professor Lesley Hughes.
“New South Wales has already experienced many bushfires this season. The bushfire threat
has also been exacerbated thanks to unprecedented temperatures in September, with parts of
the state reaching more than 40 degrees for the first time on record,” she said.
Professor Hughes said New South Wales will continue to experience an increasing number of
days with dangerous fire weather, placing fire services and medical professionals under
“Communities, emergency services and the health sector needs to be prepared and resourced
for worsening fire danger conditions now and into the future. By 2030 firefighter numbers will
need to at least double.”
“This spring and summer bushfire conditions are ‘above normal’ so preparation will be critical.”
Key Findings include:
- Hot, dry conditions have a major influence on bushfires. The 2017 winter in New South
Wales was one of the warmest on record and extremely dry, and was then followed by
unprecedented September heat, including some regions reaching 40°C or more for the
first time on record.
- Bushfire costs in New South Wales are likely to more than double by mid-century to over
$100 million per year. These estimates are conservative, because they do not factor in
- ‘Above normal’ fire potential is expected for much of the eastern New South Wales in the
2017-18 bush fire season, on the back of warm, dry June-September weather.
Bushfires have a major negative impact on public health, the economy and the environment in New South Wales.
Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie warned the escalating fire risk in New South Wales also posed a significant threat to human health.
“Bushfire smoke can seriously affect human health, from respiratory irritants, through to
inflammatory and cancer-causing chemicals. Young children, the elderly and those with chronic
lung and heart diseases are at greatest risk.” she said.
McKenzie said the Federal Government’s dumping of the Clean Energy Target in favour of the
vague ‘National Energy Guarantee’ plan, places Australia at risk of worsening pollution levels,
exacerbating more intense heatwaves and bushfire conditions.
“The Federal Government’s energy plan is a classic example of policy on the run. The key tests
of a robust energy and climate policy is – does it get down pollution and facilitate the transition
to renewable energy? This policy does neither,” she said.
“Tackling climate change, through transitioning to clean, affordable and reliable renewable
energy and storage technology is the only solution – this is critical to reducing the risk of
worsening extreme weather events including bushfires.”
For more information please contact Media Advisor Alexia Boland on 0430511068.