Concerned former fire and emergency chiefs have warned of increasingly catastrophic extreme weather events and demanded action on climate change.
The group of 23 ex-top brass fired a salvo against Prime Minister Scott Morrison as well as state and territory governments in a signed joint letter issued in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“We are deeply concerned about the lack of climate action at a national level and felt obligated to speak out,” former NSW Fire and Rescue commissioner Greg Mullins said.
“In the last year we’ve seen unseasonal fires in Tasmania, Victoria, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia, floods and twin cyclones in parts of northern Australia, longer bushfire danger periods and fires burning in rainforests.
“Rising greenhouse gas pollution from the burning of coal, oil and gas is worsening extreme weather and putting people in danger.”
The signatories want the Prime Minister to meet a delegation of ex-emergency services leaders to discuss the escalating climate change risks.
They also want a federal parliamentary inquiry into whether emergency services are adequately resourced to cope and funding for strategic national emergency management assets, like aircraft.
Calling themselves Emergency Leaders for Climate Change, the group warned that:
- Bushfire seasons are lasting longer and longer
- Very high to catastrophic bushfire dangers each year are increasing and projected to get even worse.
- Opportunities to carry out hazard reduction burns are decreasing because of warmer, drier winters
- ‘Dry’ lightning storms are increasing in frequency, sparking many remote bushfires
- The increasing overlap of fire seasons between states and territories and with the US and Canada limits the ability to help each other during major emergencies.
- Increasing the risk of heavier downpours and flooding events – like that which recently affected Townsville.
- Federal government climate policy has resulted in increasing greenhouse gas pollution, putting Australian lives at risk.
- Communities, emergency services and health services need resourcing to cope with increasing natural disaster risk.