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Responsibility and Risk-Sharing in Climate Adaptation: a Case Study of Bushfire Risk in Australia

Responsibility and Risk-Sharing in Climate Adaptation: a Case Study of Bushfire Risk in Australia Abstract‘Shared responsibility’ for managing risk is central to Australian adaptation and disaster-resilience policies, yet there is no consensus on what this term means or how it is discharged by various actors at each phase of the risk-management process. This has implications for both equity and effectiveness, because shared responsibility assumes that individuals have capacity and that the decisions they make will not conflict with other public values. This article explores how law assigns responsibility for climate adaptation by examining its approach to a specific climate impact in Australia: the increasing frequency and severity of bushfire. Australia faces heightened bushfire risk from the interplay of climate change effects and demographic shifts. While planning laws attempt to limit exposure of new communities to fire risks, adapting existing communities involves hazard mitigation across the landscape, through fuel reduction – accomplished by controlled burning or clearing of brush and timber – and the construction of fuel breaks. Most Australian jurisdictions impose some form of obligation on land managers or owners to mitigate fire risk. However, the effectiveness of shifting responsibility onto individual landholders, measured in terms of bushfire risk mitigation, is not established. The shifting of responsibility also has implications for equity because shared responsibility for fire management assumes that individuals know what must be done and have the capacity to do it themselves or pay others to. The law also privileges bushfire protection above other public values, including the protection of biodiversity and cultural values. To account for the complexity of adaptation decision-making, bushfire mitigation laws should avoid creating inequities and should include mechanisms for resolving trade-offs between competing values. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Climate Law Brill

Responsibility and Risk-Sharing in Climate Adaptation: a Case Study of Bushfire Risk in Australia

Climate Law , Volume 12 (2): 34 – Apr 25, 2022

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1878-6553
eISSN
1878-6561
DOI
10.1163/18786561-20210003
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract‘Shared responsibility’ for managing risk is central to Australian adaptation and disaster-resilience policies, yet there is no consensus on what this term means or how it is discharged by various actors at each phase of the risk-management process. This has implications for both equity and effectiveness, because shared responsibility assumes that individuals have capacity and that the decisions they make will not conflict with other public values. This article explores how law assigns responsibility for climate adaptation by examining its approach to a specific climate impact in Australia: the increasing frequency and severity of bushfire. Australia faces heightened bushfire risk from the interplay of climate change effects and demographic shifts. While planning laws attempt to limit exposure of new communities to fire risks, adapting existing communities involves hazard mitigation across the landscape, through fuel reduction – accomplished by controlled burning or clearing of brush and timber – and the construction of fuel breaks. Most Australian jurisdictions impose some form of obligation on land managers or owners to mitigate fire risk. However, the effectiveness of shifting responsibility onto individual landholders, measured in terms of bushfire risk mitigation, is not established. The shifting of responsibility also has implications for equity because shared responsibility for fire management assumes that individuals know what must be done and have the capacity to do it themselves or pay others to. The law also privileges bushfire protection above other public values, including the protection of biodiversity and cultural values. To account for the complexity of adaptation decision-making, bushfire mitigation laws should avoid creating inequities and should include mechanisms for resolving trade-offs between competing values.

Journal

Climate LawBrill

Published: Apr 25, 2022

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