A coalition of more than 150 bushfire experts have called for the Australian government to impose a levy on the fossil fuel industry for a climate disaster fund.
It was one of 165 recommendations in a report published on Thursday by Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA), a coalition of former emergency service leaders, climate scientists, and affected community members, in a bid to improve bushfire readiness, response and recovery.
The report, the ‘Australian Bushfire and Climate Plan’, found that climate change was responsible for the bushfires that devastated much of Australia in the summer of 2019-20.
It said that as a major driver of global warming, the fossil fuel industry should pay for the impact of bushfires.
“The escalation in natural disasters is driven by climate change,” Greg Mullins, co-founder of ELCA and former Fire and Rescue New South Wales (NSW) commissioner, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
“There should be a levy on the fossil fuel industry, given all their tax breaks.”
“We had the hottest, driest year ever — a year that would not have happened without the impact of climate change.”
“It drove the worst bushfires in Australia’s history — they were bigger, hotter, faster and more destructive [than] what we’ve ever experienced before.”
The ELCA in April 2019 warned of a looming catastrophic bushfire season but were denied a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“Sadly, those warnings fell on deaf ears and, as the world watched on in horror, those same warnings became a harsh reality,” the report said, accusing the federal government of ignoring “the rapidly escalating threat of climate change.”
The group has also called for Australia’s aerial firefighting capability to be boosted and for an Indigenous-led National Cultural Fire Strategy to complement existing management strategies.
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