Climate change and fire

Bushfires are becoming more frequent and the bushfire season is coming earlier and lasting longer because of climate change.

These longer fire seasons in Australia are not “normal”. They are being driven by human induced global heating (climate change). Unless we act now to reduce our emissions in line with what climate science suggests, we will become locked in to ever worsening fire seasons.

Climate change is a global problem and requires a global, co-ordinated solution. All countries must play their part, especially high per capita polluting nations like Australia.

Fire behaviour is changing, and changing for the worse. Climate change causes extreme weather, which in turn causes bushfires and other natural disasters. This is our workplace, and it is becoming more and more unsafe.

Now is the time to act decisively and swiftly.

  • A long-term heating trend from the burning of coal, oil and gas is supercharging extreme weather events, putting Australian lives, our economy and our environment at risk. Australia is one of the most vulnerable developed countries to climate change.
  • If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, the unusually hot weather currently experienced will become commonplace, occurring every summer across the country. Sydney and Melbourne could experience unprecedented 50°C summer days by the end of the century.
  • Australian states, territories, towns and cities are leading the way on climate action. This leadership is hugely important because the Federal Government has no credible pathway for reducing emissions.
  • Australia must contribute to the global effort to deeply and rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we must prepare our fire and emergency services and communities for worsening extreme weather events.
  • In 2022, the global community will gather to discuss taking further action on climate change. Nations like Australia will need to announce an updated emission reduction target for the year 2030.
  • AFCA says that Australia should aim to reduce emissions by 75% below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2035.

Find out more

The following are some resources on the link between climate change and fire.

Climate Council report on the fires of summer of 2019/20.

Climate Council fire resources on bushfires and climate.

Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA)

ELCA is a ‘coalition of former senior Australian fire and emergency service leaders representing every fire service in Australia, a number of SES and land management agencies, communicating the seriousness of the climate change threat, calling for government action on emissions and the necessary resources to better prepare fire and emergency services for increasingly frequent and damaging extreme weather events’. The ELCA website is here.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth has a range of fire and climate resources available here.

An open letter on the scientific basis for the links between climate change and bushfires in Australia (available here).

This letter was supported by 446 scientists with research expertise across the fields of climate, fire and weather science.

Take action

2Please join our ‘selfie’ campaign and encourage your friends to do the same.

This will run through the 2021/22 season. Details here.

Getting on with climate action

There is a petition here (produced by Friends of the Earth) which calls on the federal government to set meaningful emission reduction targets for this year’s global climate summit. Available here.

Extra air support for fighting fires

We need additional large planes and helicopters to fight the climate driven fires of the future.

This petition calls on the federal government to establish a publicly owned air fleet of Large Air Tankers and Type 1 helicopters.

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