Confirmation of 2019 as hottest, driest year proves climate change has exacerbated Australian bushfire tragedy

SYDNEY, Jan 9, 2019 - The Bureau of Meteorology’s announcement that 2019 was the hottest and driest year on record provides further evidence that climate change has turbocharged the bushfires devastating large parts of Australia.

Earlier today the agency revealed that across 2019 temperatures were 1.5 degrees Celsius above average while average rainfalls were also at a record low. [1]

“This data confirms what both the scientists and our brave and expert firefighters have been telling us all along. Climate change is responsible for the hot and dry conditions that have turbocharged these fires causing so much havoc to people and wildlife across the country,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter said.

“This data should help silence those who have been pushing the discredited lie that arson and a lack of backburning are responsible for the scale of the bushfire crisis.

“People are suffering through this crisis and – astonishingly – members of the federal government are trying to push their pro-fossil fuel agenda when they should be offering help to those who have lost their homes and doing all they can for the men and women fighting tirelessly to put these fires out.” 

Yesterday Queensland’s Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Greg Leach said bushland has been “progressively drying” over recent years and the dangerous trend would continue into next fire season “with even drier conditions than what we have now”.

The Queensland fire chief’s comments echoed his counterparts in New South Wales and Victoria, who were unambiguous in pinning Australia’s ongoing bushfire crisis on hotter, drier conditions caused by ongoing drought. 

The Victorian Country Fire Authority Chief Officer Steve Warrington said hazard reduction done in cooler months is not a “silver bullet”, adding the “emotive argument is not supported that fuel reduction burning will fix all our problems”, while NSW Rural Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said much of recent hazard reduction offered little protection against “mega fires” that “skip straight through” previous burns. 

Mr Ritter called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to listen to the experts, take the necessary action on climate change and silence those members of his government pushing dangerous lies. 

“Scott Morrison must tell his party members to pull their heads in and stop pushing dangerous lies about what’s causing these mega fires because they cling to baseless nonsense,” he said. 

“We have seen how much damage has already been caused by politicians ignoring expert warnings – it would be almost astonishingly foolish for the Prime Minister to continue to ignore firefighters and scientists in favour of rumours and drunk uncle opinions.”

“As our fire chiefs have said, the scale of this catastrophe is fuelled by our continent becoming hotter and drier and that dangerous fire conditions will become more intense unless we take urgent action to reduce emissions and tackle climate change.”

 

NOTES

[1] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/australia-has-officially-recorded-its-warmest-driest-year-on-record-bom

 

CONTACT

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner, Martin Zavan

0424 295 422

[email protected]