AUSTRALIA’S BUSHFIRE RECOVERY effort is incomplete without the inclusion of a strong climate policy that rapidly and significantly cuts our greenhouse gas emissions, according to Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, a coalition of 30 former fire and emergency chiefs from every state and territory.
The former chiefs welcomed the establishment of a $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund, but called on the Federal Government to show the same level of urgency in addressing climate change, which has clearly exacerbated the extent and ferocity of bushfires which have destroyed at least 7 times more homes than in NSW’s previous worst bushfire disaster (1994).
Greg Mullins, former Commissioner of Fire & Rescue NSW, said: “The unprecedented, horrific conditions of this bushfire season have been aggravated by climate change driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas.”
“The welcome funding for disaster recovery is essential to help affected communities rebuild after the fires, and it is also good to see our calls for additional resourcing for firefighters and access to defence capabilities being addressed.”
“But the government’s continued refusal to consider a credible climate policy that phases out fossil fuels and achieves deep cuts to emissions means that we and future generations will continue to face worsening extreme weather that drives disasters such as what we are facing now,” said Mr Mullins.
ELCA’s full list of recommendations to the Federal Government includes developing a structured national approach to deal with climate-fuelled worsening extreme weather, funding certainty for national bushfire and natural hazards research, new building and planning standards, and developing funding benchmarks to help fire and land management agencies to better manage fuel loads.
“It is pointless to help with one hand and cause harm with the other. The Federal Government should be learning from this bushfire crisis and seek bipartisan support for real climate action so that Australia can influence other high emitting countries,” said Mr Mullins.