Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Climate Change spokesperson
The key message from the Inaugural National Bushfire and Climate Summit held yesterday was that governments must turn down the heat driving increasing climate change-fuelled bushfires, otherwise no amount of resourcing will ever be enough to keep pace.
The 33 Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, led by former NSW Commissioner of Fire & Rescue, Greg Mullins, were crystal clear - our worsening extreme weather is caused by burning fossil fuels and the climate heating that follows.
The Summit confirmed the length and extent of last summer’s fire disasters were fundamentally different to what even sophisticated defence wargaming had ever predicted. This is despite the planet having ‘only’ warmed 1.1 degrees above average so far.
Current estimates are the world will warm by a minimum of 3 degrees at the end of the century, unless we act fast.
Summit scientists and firefighters actually cautioned against assuming last summer’s fires were the ‘new normal’, because they are already outdated. Governments must look to the future, and we must start modelling the expected changes that climate heating will bring.
Summit fire experts warned Tasmania to act now to prevent worsening bushfire conditions. Some 50 per cent of the state’s carbon emissions come from fossil-fuelled transport, and critically, the government is also clearfelling critical native forest carbon stores and increasing bushfire risk to neighbouring communities in the process.
The recovery from COVID-19 is an opportunity to reset. We’re recovering from a pandemic, but the climate emergency is still a present, and growing, threat.
The expertise of forestry workers, currently wasted in climate-damaging logging, should be redeployed into large-scale bushfire prevention and land regeneration. Native forest logging must stop if we are to take climate change seriously.
The Gutwein Government must put the electrification of our transport system and an end to native forest logging at the top of the recovery agenda. Both are critical to reducing the risk from catastrophic bushfires, and would create new carbon-neutral and sustainable industries.
Premier and Climate Change Minister, Peter Gutwein, who has shown strength during the COVID-19 pandemic, needs to take the advice of Australia’s fire chiefs and act on the climate crisis during the economic recovery. We urge him to keep listening to the experts