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Abstract:

The fires that occurred over the 2019/20 Australian summer were unprecedented in scale and had a devastating impact on large parts of Australia. In this paper, we estimate the economic costs of bushfires between 2020 and 2049 and the potential reduction in these costs from investments in early fire detection systems. Under various plausible climate change related scenarios the costs of fires over the next 30 years will be considerable, up to $2.2billion per year, or $1.2billion per year in Net Present Value terms. Even with conservative estimates of the reduction in the number of economically damaging fires due to earlier fire detection, the reduction in the costs of fires over the next 30 years is considerable. Under plausible scenarios of change leading to a growth in large fires (which almost all scientists expect it will) and early detection leading a reduction in the probability of large fires, then we predict an economic benefit of around $14.4billion, or $8.2billion in Net Present Value terms.

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