Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 November 2018) . . Page.. 4993 ..
day without lives being lost as firefighters prepare to battle the worst bushfire conditions in the state’s history, according to authorities. There are more than 80 fires burning across the state. And, as of this morning, more than a thousand people have lost their homes near the Deepwater fire on Queensland’s central coast.
Members will be aware of terrible fires that have been occurring all around the world in recent months. On my recent trip overseas I spoke to European officials who were shocked at the fire issues they were suddenly having to deal with, which they have never had to deal with. Fires devastated Sweden over the European summer. And these are not fires they are prepared for, because historically they have not had to confront this threat. In the UK peat bogs are catching fire, destroying a precious and finite natural resource.
While I was in California in September wildfires were raging, destroying properties, and taking lives. In fact, there was a large contingent of ACT firefighters there assisting US firefighters to fight and manage those blazes. Wildfires have killed nearly 100 people so far this year in California. The latest climate change report from the US national climate assessment—that is an official report from the US government—warns that wildfires will become worse with climate change. That report says that climate change has driven the wildfires in the south-west of the USA, leading to the loss of lives, environmental damage and costing billions of dollars. It says the area affected by wildfires has essentially doubled due to climate change.
These are some of the reasons that the Greens say, as do many others, that we are in a climate change emergency. These are also some of the reasons why today we have had kids here in Canberra and across the country missing a day of school, standing in the rain certainly here in Canberra, to call for urgent action on climate change. It is to protect their future and to protect all our futures which are being jeopardised by ignorant and inadequate federal action on climate change.
US President Donald Trump responded to the US national climate assessment firstly by releasing it just after Thanksgiving, which essentially buried it, and secondly by saying that he did not believe it. Let us not take such a blinkered and negligent approach in this Assembly and here in the ACT.
I ask that all of us acknowledge the impact of climate change. I welcome Minister Gentleman’s comments on this in terms of its significant impact on bushfire risks and bushfire preparedness and that we continue to take the right action and the right steps to do what we can to address it.
Climate change impacts on our ability to prepare for fires. As well as the increased risk of fires, as I said in my earlier remarks, firefighting is becoming much harder. As climate change extends the hotter and drier weather, the fire seasons of Australia and the USA, which are usually separate and distinct, are starting to overlap. Usually firefighting resources can be shared between countries. Now the seasons are starting to overlap. The usual off-season between dangerous fire periods is disappearing.
The Climate Council’s report found that there had been a nearly 20 per cent increase in global fire seasons between 1978 and 2013. This means that firefighters have less