Too Close to Home: How we keep communities safer from escalating climate impacts

20.06.24 By , , and

A fundamental duty of governments is to keep people safe. Wherever we may live, having a basic level of physical security and the confidence that we are safe and protected at home is essential. For too many of us worsening fires, floods, storms and droughts — driven by climate pollution from the burning of coal, oil and gas — are eroding our security.

An overwhelming majority of Australians have experienced at least one climate-fuelled disaster since 2019 and around one in three of us worry we may one day be forced to relocate.

We are now living through a rapid intensification of climate-fuelled disasters. Emergency services and governments worldwide are already being periodically overwhelmed by the increasing frequency, intensity and destructiveness of climate-fuelled disasters, and this will continue to worsen until we stabilise temperatures. If we are to have any hope of successfully coping, all adaptation and resilience efforts must sit alongside urgent efforts to reduce climate pollution further and faster this decade.

The following five priorities identified by Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) are concrete steps Australian governments can take to help better protect communities from the impacts many are already experiencing due to climate pollution.

Key Findings

1. Communities and first responders are struggling to cope with increasingly frequent climate-fuelled disasters, with assistance from the Australian Government sought by states and territories 226 times since 2019/20.

2. Australians have been forced to move almost a quarter of a million times
in recent years due to climate-fuelled disasters, with certain communities becoming calamity hotspots.

3. We can limit the severity of future floods, fires and destructive storms if we phase out pollution from coal, oil and gas more swiftly in the 2020s.

4. Australia is making inroads to better prepare for and respond to worsening extreme weather, but efforts remain underfunded and inadequate in the face of the climate challenge we now face.

5. We can keep our communities safer from the climate impacts of today and tomorrow with better information, access to support and by heeding the lessons of past disasters.