Costs Soar in National Bushfire Crisis: Call for Levy on Fossil Fuel Production

Calls renew for a National Climate Disaster Fund funded by a levy on the emissions of fossil fuel production. The National Climate Disaster would help fund the soaring cost of Australia’s ongoing national bushfire crisis.

Australia Institute modelling shows that the levy, set initially at $1 per tonne of embodied emissions, would raise $1.5 billion per year for the National Climate Disaster Fund.

These funds could then be used to address the growing cost of climate disasters, such as: assisting businesses to recover, fund more fire-fighting equipment, including more water bombing planes, or help fund paid leave for volunteer fire-fighters. Grants could also be made to at-risk households and businesses to assist with fire prevention measures.

“Businesses and everyday Australians are paying for impacts of climate change that are being fuelled by fossil producers,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director at the Australia Institute.

“The catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009 lasted a single day and are estimated to have cost over $7 billion. In contrast, there is no end in sight for the current national bushfire catastrophe.

“Every tonne of coal or gas mined in Australia adds approximately 2.5 tonnes of heat trapping gas to the atmosphere, making bushfires more frequent and more intense. It’s time they made a contribution to paying for the climate disasters they are fuelling.

“The National Climate Disaster Fund could help fund loss and damage payments to impacted businesses including tourism and farming.

“It is a fundamental principle of economics that companies profiting from activities that cause damage to others should pay the costs of that damage.”

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