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:
Our Pacific neighbours
Climate change is an existential threat to Pacific nations. Sea level rise threatens to inundate entire island nations, but long before that soil and the water supply become contaminated with salt, depleting drinking water and rendering the land infertile for agriculture. Fisheries, which are an essential source of food and the economic lifeblood of many of these nations now face collapse from increasing ocean heatwaves and ocean acidification (IPCC (2019) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate).
These island nations are also increasingly at risk from extreme weather events. Increasing ocean temperatures result in stronger storms and greater flooding. As discussed above, Australian Bureau of Meteorology modellings has found that “Pacific Rainfall Disruptions” including droughts and floods have already increased in frequency by 30% as a result of climate change, and are projected to increase by 90% in the first half of this century and 130% in the latter half.
Besides the devastating human and environmental tragedy, this is a critical issue of regional stability and national security for Australia. Australia will undoubtedly be required to play a leadership role in natural disaster response, relief and reconstruction to increasingly severe natural disasters and chronic climate impacts in the region.
Recently, the head of the Australian Defence Force, General Angus Campbell noted that Australia is in “the most natural disaster-prone region in the world” and that “climate change is predicted to make disasters more extreme and more common”.
He also noted that the level of commitment required from the ADF to respond to climate change-related events compared to more traditional deployments (Clarke (2019) Climate change could stretch our capabilities, Defence Force chief speech warns).
The NCDF could provide a source of reliable funding for Australia to assist our Pacific neighbours in responding to and recovering from natural disasters as well as building resilience, without being at the expense of existing development programs.