Australian PM admits climate change has fuelled crisis

06 January 2020 | Adaptation


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has admitted that climate change “impacts” Australia, in a major reversal of his previous stance on the role of global warming in his country’s ongoing bushfire crisis.

More than 12 million acres have been destroyed and half a billion animals killed in bushfires that have raged across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia since September. Around 150 fires remain active in New South Wales alone, of which 64 are uncontrolled.

Morrison had previously been reluctant to link climate change to the blazes, insisting only last month that “many other factors” were responsible.

“There is no argument... about the links between broader issues of global climate change and weather events around the world,” he said. “But I’m sure people equally would acknowledge that the direct connection to any single fire event - it’s not a credible suggestion to make that link.”

However, following widespread criticism and calls for his resignation, Morrison has told reporters that he needs “to correct the record”.

“There is no dispute in this country about the issue of climate change globally and its effect on global weather patterns and that includes how it impacts in Australia,” he said at a news conference on Sunday.

“I have to correct the record here. I have seen a number of people suggest that somehow the government does not make this connection. The government has always made this connection and that has never been in dispute.”

The Australian leader subsequently announced that an initial $2bn in funding had been set aside to support the rebuilding of community infrastructure and to help affected farmers and businesses, with more cash injections to follow. 

The spending, to be overseen by the newly established National Bushfire Recovery Agency, is expected to reach levels similar to the $5.6bn paid out in disaster recovery assistance in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi and the Brisbane floods back in 2011.

“The fires are still burning, and they will be burning for months to come,” said Morrison. “If further funds are required, further funds will be provided.”


Source: The Week