Australia urgently needs a dedicated, independently administered fund to meet the escalating costs of natural disasters due to global warming.
Beneficiaries of the National Climate Disaster Fund?
Funding can be distributed amongst the most disaster impacted regions and sectors in Australia. These include:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Communities
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities are particularly at risk from the impacts of climate change.
As noted in the health section above, heatwaves have a profound effect on people’s health and wellbeing. Many inland regional areas with large Aboriginal populations are already experiencing unprecedented increases in extreme heat, and the projections are dire for many parts of the country. For example Tennant Creek in Central Australia is projected to experience up to 150 days per year over 40C by 2090 (up from an average of 20 days per year historically) (BoM (2019) Climate data online; CSIRO and BoM (2018) Climate projections, provided on request). Darwin could experience up to 275 days per year over 35C by 2070 (up from an average of 5 days historically) (Ogge and Hanna (2018), Cooked with gas Extreme heat in Darwin).
These problems are exacerbated by entrenched disadvantage, overcrowding and low rates of air-conditioning (Gooch (2016) Aboriginal Housing Office plans to roll out air-conditioning to properties in hottest regions of NSW).
Sea level rise and coastal inundation directly threatens the Torres Strait Islands and other coastal indigenous communities with increasing flooding, contamination of fresh water and roads and buildings and roads being washed away (Hartley (2019) Climate change eats away at Torres Strait islands, prompting calls for long-term solutions).
The NCDF could provide a source of funding to build resilience in Aboriginal communities by providing better housing with less over-crowding and better cooling systems. It could also be used to provide better health and community services to cope with the social and health impacts of increasing extreme heat. The NCDF could also assist with adaptation measures in the Torres Strait and other communities facing sea level rise.