Former New South Wales Fire and Rescue Commissioner Greg Mullins has toured devastating Californian fires to learn lessons for Australia’s worsening bushfire risk.
The Climate Councillor told the ABCs 7:30 Report last night that “the most fire-prone parts of the planet are burning more and more and it is going to be harder to fight these fires.”
“We are coming into what I think is the most dangerous build-up to a fire season that I’ve seen since 1994 and it is atrocious that our national government doesn’t recognise that there is a disaster headed their way,” he said.
“Late-season fires are burning in California, alongside early-season fires across much of Australia – and this overlap is deeply worrying,” said Mullins.
All large firefighting planes and helicopters used in Australia, except one owned by New South Wales, are leased from North America.
“With Australia and California burning at the same time, it’s difficult, if not impossible, for us to lease vital personnel and equipment from the United States,” he said.
Mullins is a founding member of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, a coalition of emergency leaders from around the country calling for stronger action on climate change.
“We are seeing the impacts of intensifying climate change in Australia now. Bushfire seasons are intensifying, starting earlier and lasting longer than ever before, and we need to take this seriously,” said the Climate Council’s CEO Amanda McKenzie.
“California has experienced devastating fires year in, year out with thousands of homes lost. Without efforts to both tackle climate change and manage escalating fire danger, Australian fires are getting riskier,” she said.
“The Federal Government is failing Australians on climate and failing to secure Australians a safe future,” said McKenzie.
“The Federal Government must listen to emergency leaders and stop ignoring the risk to communities and emergency services personnel. We need urgent emissions reductions, and a coordinated national effort on coping with worsening extreme weather disasters,” said Mullins.
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