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Bushfire Emergency Highlights Urgent Need to Heed Climate Council Report

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Tags: Bushfires, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Climate Change

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Climate Change spokesperson

The Climate Council’s uncompromising and straight-speaking report, Climate Change-Fuelled Extreme Weather in 2018, confirms what all Tasmanians have lived for the last six weeks. 

Australia’s foremost authority of independent scientists, the Climate Council, have documented the recent impacts of climate change on the increasingly extreme weather under which all Australians have been suffering.

The past four years have been the hottest years ever recorded, continuing the long-term global warming trend. The report’s key findings won’t be news to anyone, especially those living in a dry landscape, facing the threat of fire right now.

In Tasmania, we are experiencing the destruction that climate change-fuelled extreme weather is producing. There is more than 1,600 kms of active fire front, more than 190,000 hectares of the state already destroyed, houses lost and thousands of people’s lives severely affected.

Bushfires have been burning for six weeks, and many residents in the Huon, Central Highlands and North West have had their lives completely disrupted for several weeks. In the Huon Valley there are still people unable to return home or work, their sleep and health affected. Schools are closed, and there is still no sign of the rain needed to extinguish the fires.

The Climate Council’s report highlights the damages and costs of climate change and extreme weather. The extraordinary cost to the state of fighting fires of this size and in remote areas for months, the individuals who have lost homes and other assets, as well as the impacts to primary producers is yet to be known.

These costs are on top of the priceless and irreplaceable Gondwanan wilderness that continues to burn in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and which, once burnt, is gone forever.

To slow and eventually stop the increase in more severe and frequent extreme weather, Australia needs an effective national climate policy that drives down greenhouse gas pollution. It’s our only real defence.

Australia’s top scientists make it clear in this report the Liberals’ measly commitment to a 26% reduction on emissions by 2030 will be woeful and ineffective. For real and urgent action, Labor and the Liberals need to walk away from their support for the Adani coal mine and, as the Greens have, commit to a more than 65% reduction in emissions by 2030.

We do not need a Prime Minister committed to coal and carbon emissions, or a Premier blind to the climate reality. We need leaders who will act, and do everything they can to dramatically reduce carbon emissions.