NSW bushfires to cost $800m by 2050

Bushfires in NSW will cost more than $800 million by 2050, according to Deloitte Access Economic data.

The financial burden of bushfires in NSW will more than double by 2050 with the total economic cost predicted to rise to $800 million per year.

The costs, detailed by Deloitte Access Economic data cited in a new Climate Council report, measure insured losses as well as broader social costs.

The latest estimates, which also take into account losses of life, livelihoods, property damage and emergency service responses, revealed bushfires cost $337 million a year as of 2011.

But Climate Council report author professor Lesley Hughes said those numbers were based on cautious estimates.

"Those estimates were based solely on increasing population size and increasing asset growth. It doesn't take climate change into consideration," Prof Hughes said.

"So if we consider that climate change is also increasing, the risk and intensity and impact of bushfires, those are extremely conservative estimates for the cost."

The council's report - Be Prepared: Climate Change and the NSW Bushfire Threat - found that extreme fire weather in NSW has increased over the past three decades.

Prof Hughes said last year was the hottest in Australia on record and last summer was the driest in Sydney for 27 years.

The report also found the NSW bushfire season is starting earlier and lasting longer as the planet continues to warm.

"The concept of a `normal' bushfire season is rapidly changing as bushfires continue to increase in number, burn for longer, and affect larger areas," Prof Hughes said.

Prof Hughes said greenhouse gas emissions must be cut rapidly to reduce the risk of more frequent and severe extreme weather events.


* 1993-94: $215m

Four deaths, 206 houses, 800 000ha

North Coast, South Coast, Hunter, Blue Mountains and Sydney

* 2013: $183.4m

Two deaths, 222 houses, 118 000ha

Blue Mountains, Port Stephens, Lake Munmorah, Hunter, Hawkesbury

* 1984-85: $179m

Five deaths, 40,000 stock, 3 500 000ha

Western Division

* 2001-02: $131m

109 houses, 744 000ha

Greater Sydney, Hunter, North Coast, Mid-north coast, Northern and central tablelands

* 1990-91: $54m

Two deaths, 14 houses

Baulkham Hills, Gosford, Wyong and Lake Macquarie

(Source: Climate Council)

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch