British naturalist Sir David Attenborough has described Australia’s recent bushfire crisis as a “moment of crisis” in the fight against climate change, warning that governments’ targets for decades in the future are not enough to save the planet.
In a BBC interview as part of his TV series Blue Planet 11, the 93-year-old referenced the deadly bushfires which have swept across the country during the past four months killing 28 people, destroying millions of hectares of land, and wildlife populations and animal habitats from Western Australia to East Gippsland in Victoria.
“As I speak, southeast Australia is on fire. Why? Because the temperatures of the Earth are increasing,” he said on Thursday local time.
“That is a major international catastrophe. And to say ‘oh it’s nothing to do with the climate’ is palpably nonsense.”
Sir David criticised Canberra’s approach to climate change, saying the government’s support for coal mines showed the world it did not care about the environment.
He also called on China in particular to reduce its carbon emissions, saying he thought other countries would follow if China set a lead.
“The moment of crisis has come – we can no longer prevaricate,” he said, who raised public awareness around the world of the danger of plastic pollution in oceans with his series.
“We have been putting things off year after year, raising targets and saying ‘Oh well if we do it within the next 20 years…’,” he said.
“This is an urgent problem that has to be solved. And what is more is that we know how to do it – that’s the paradoxical thing – that we are refusing to take steps that we know have to be taken.”
On Thursday, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull lashed out at former colleagues and the Murdoch media in a damning essay written forTime magazine.
“In Australia, as in the US, this issue [climate change] has been hijacked by a toxic, climate-denying alliance of right-wing politics and media (much of it owned by Rupert Murdoch), as well as vested business interests, especially in the coal industry,” he said.
“These fires show that the wicked, self-destructive idiocy of climate denialism must stop,” Mr Turnbull said.
On his time in power, he said the National Energy Guarantee policy was “sabotaged” and “brought down my government.”
“Both times, my efforts to take concerted action on climate change were followed by my losing my job,” he said.
Sir David Attenborough’s interview was part of the BBC’s drive to increase coverage of climate change ahead of a UN conference on climate change, COP 26, in Glasgow in November 2020.