Scott Morrison has slammed claims his climate change policies have contributed to the bushfire season, arguing Australia’s share of global warming is so small that nothing he did would make a difference.
While the Prime Minister said Australia was happy to do ‘its share’ to tackle global warming, the notion his policies would have any impact on global warming alone, without big polluters taking action did not “bear up to credible scientific evidence”.
“I am up for taking action on it, not just jabbering on about it,” he told ABC radio.
“But I think to suggest, with just 1.3 per cent of global emissions, that Australia doing something differently, more or less, would have changed the fire outcome this season; I don’t think that stands up to any credible scientific evidence at all.
“The suggestion in any way, shape or form, that … the individual actions of Australia are impacting directly on specific fire events, whether it is here or anywhere else in the world; that doesn’t bear up to credible scientific evidence either.”
The Prime Minister’s remarks were in response to revelations that former NSW fire chief Greg Mullins said that Australia could have been better prepared for the current bushfire crisis across Queensland, NSW and SA if the Morrison government had listened to the advice from emergency leaders.
Speaking on the ABC’s Radio National network on Thursday morning, Mr Mullins said he wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison in April and again “immediately after” the May election, warning him of the coming bushfire season and requesting an urgent meeting to discuss funding for firefighting and action to address climate change.
“In a nutshell, it has been difficult and the Prime Minister has seen fit not to meet with us,” Mr Mullins said.
The air quality index hit 707 in Sydney’s CBD, while Rouse Hill in the city’s north-west climbed to 437. Anything above 200 is considered hazardous, while 65 and below is rated as ‘good’.
Mr Morrison said the government was taking action on climate change rather than “jabbering about it”.
“We like taking action on climate change, that is what we like doing. We have got our commitments for Kyoto 2020. Remember, they are the commitments that were put in place to deal with the global climactic conditions that we are experiencing right now. We not only lived up to those commitments for next year but we will beat them by 367 million tonnes,” Mr Morrison said.
“If anything, Australia is an overachiever on our global commitments and for 2030 we will meet those as well with the mechanisms we have put in place.”
Mr Morrison does not dispute the link between climate change and bushfires, but makes the point that no action by Australia alone would reduce global warming.
In relation to Mr Mullins’ advice, the Prime Minister said Australia was well prepared for the bushfire ahead.
“This is advice we already have from existing fire chiefs doing the existing job,” he said.
“This is why we put the additional resources into our emergency services and our aviation firefighting assets.
“These are things that were very well known to the government. I mean, it’s the contribution of these issues to global weather conditions and to conditions here in Australia are known and acknowledged. And so we were getting on with the job of preparing for what is already being a very devastating fire season.”
“I mean, in February I acknowledged the contribution of those factors to what was happening in Australia, amongst many other issues.”