Katoomba the setting for climate council meeting

The bushfire season is set to get longer and more dangerous unless urgent action is taken on climate change a forum in Katoomba heard yesterday.

Climate councillor and ecologist Professor Lesley Hughes warned more than 60 local and state government representatives, academics and community groups about worsening fires fueled by climate change at the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre.

Councils around Australia have been called to help protect their communities from worsening bushfires by the partnership.

Blue Mountains City Council, and another attendee Huon Valley Council from Tasmania, are familiar with the intensifying threat that has devastated their communities.

Professor Hughes said: “Intensifying climate change is driving Australia’s escalating bushfire threat, creating longer and more dangerous fire seasons than ever before and 2018 was no exception across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania".

Intensifying climate change is driving Australia’s escalating bushfire threat, creating longer and more dangerous fire seasons than ever before

Professor Lesley Hughes

“It’s imperative that all levels of government commit to swift and meaningful action to drive down Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the climate impacts that put our community at risk of more frequent and intense bushfires," she added.

Mayor Mark Greenhill said Australian communities needed to understand that "we’re living in a new era now, with intense bushfire seasons that start earlier and continue longer, as a result of climate change".

“Councils, as the tier of government that’s closest to the community, can help people to understand this new fire threat, and how it could affect where they live and how they build and renovate their homes," Mayor Greenhill said.

“An informed community is one that, in partnership with local emergency services, is better able to plan for and respond to the increased bushfire threat."

Former NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner and Climate Councillor, Greg Mullins, highlighted the importance of councils working with fire services to identify areas of high bushfire risk, and manage that risk through planned burning, slashing or mulching.

"Increasing bushfire threat means that there is an urgent need for more collaboration between fire authorities, landowners, land managers, planning authorities, local councils and communities,”  Mr Mullens said.

The Cities Power Partnership has called on councils to adopt recommendations to support communities to understand and prepare for longer, more dangerous bushfire seasons.

These include:

- Educating communities on the increased bushfire risk so they can make informed decisions about purchasing, building and renovating their homes in fire danger zones.

- Rigorously enforcing local laws on maintaining fire-breaks, low vegetation and property clearing.

- Using bushfire risk maps to inform planning permission decisions.

Mountains residents are hyper aware of bushfires: Now experts say the fire season could run all year long.

Mountains residents are hyper aware of bushfires: Now experts say the fire season could run all year long.

Greens Cr Brent Hoare ensured Blue Mountains was among the first 100 councils to sign up to the partnership. He hopes it will accelerate emission reduction (see comment right).