Make polluters pay: Bushfire Royal Commission should have called for disaster levy on fossil fuel exports

SYDNEY, Oct 30 2020 - Greenpeace is calling for the country’s biggest polluters to pay for climate disasters like the 2019-20 bushfires, through a levy.

A short time ago the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements published its final report, which failed to recommend that the fossil fuel industry whose operations fuel climate change should help pay for some of the damage caused by extreme weather.

“The Bushfire Royal Commission’s central recommendation should have been to make the coal industry, which has exacerbated the bushfires, pay for them through a levy on every tonne of pollution it exports,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner, Steph Hodgins-May said.

“The 2019-20 fires killed more than 30 people, billions of animals and cost more than $15 billion in damage, which right now is paid for by the Australian public. A levy of $12 per tonne would go some way to repairing that damage.”

NSW North Coast resident and bushfire survivor Melinda Plesman, who took the remains of her bushfire-destroyed home to Parliament during the 2019-20 fires, said she was frustrated that the companies that had contributed to the climate crisis were allowed to continue damaging the environment with impunity.

“Almost a year ago, I lost my home to the worst fires Australia has ever endured. I took the burnt remains of my home to Parliament to send a message to Scott Morrison about the impacts of his Government’s support of the coal industry. 

“Since my home was destroyed in the fires, the PM has gone from cheerleading coal to aggressively promoting polluting gas, while virtually nothing has been done to accelerate the transition to clean energy sources like wind and solar.”

Polling undertaken for The Australia Institute found that 65 percent of Australians support the introduction of a fossil fuel levy to pay for climate change impacts. [1]

Ms Hodgins-May added that any measure to make polluters pay must go hand in hand with a plan to replace our ageing and unreliable coal-burning power stations with clean energy sources like wind and solar, backed up by batteries. 

“For the price of a sandwich per tonne of exported pollution, the big polluters who are contributing the most to climate change can start helping to foot the bill for the climate mess they’re causing,” she said.




Download images and video of the message “coal fuels fires” and bushfire survivor images projected onto Vales Point power station here

Watch Greenpeace’s documentary film on the Black Summer fires, Dirty Power: Burnt Country here



Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner, Martin Zavan

0424 295 422

[email protected]