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Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Survivors tell stories of Climate driven mega-fires at COP26 and call for urgent climate action

Wildfire survivors press conference

The fires are growing more intense, burning far greater areas than we have previously experienced. Climate change factors are pushing widfires to become mega-fires. Fires that are near impossible to effectively control. Forest systems that have rarely if ever, seen fire, are now burning.

Bushfires sirvivors from Australia, Canada, USA and Turkey held a press conference outside the Australian Pavilion at #COP26 on Monday, where they shared their stories of heartbreak and loss.

Those who lost everything in the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires in Australia, and then the fires that followed in California, Turkey and Canada, know exactly what’s at stake. 

The Climate Council pulled together these people to share their stories outside the Australian Pavillion.  All the participants called for world leaders and decision makers at COP26 to commit to strong emission reductions this decade.

Otherwise, we risk experiencing Black Summer, after Black Summer, after Black Summer.

Jo Dodds, President Bushfire
Survivors for Climate Action

Only in Australia, California these fires don't just occur in Summer. Wildfires now can occurr year round. Where once Northern Hemisphere fire fighters could assist in the Australian summer, and vice versa, Australian Firies head off to USA or Canada or Europe in the off season, that sharing of resources is now made much more difficult. 

The first world is now experiencing loss and damage from catastrophic wildfires, due to an increase in fire weather factors mostly driven by climate change. These catastrophic fires have been predicted for well over two decades by scientists. Politicians have failed to heed their warnings.

As a reminder to the people of the United Kingdom and delegates attending COP26, the Climate Council and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action put a full page ad in The Times Newspaper.

Jo Dodds, President of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action spoke about her ordeal with her home at Tathra on the NSW South Coast, “I represent bushfire survivors, I bring with me the voices of the many thousands of Australians who have felt the effects of catastrophic fires firsthand," Ms Dodds said.

"We need hope. There’s no recovery, no resilience, no renewal without hope."

"I’ve come to COP26 here in Glasgow to plead for that hope. Because a vague 2050 target does not bring us hope, it does not bring us the emission cuts we need. It brings us only more despair." and the catastrophic bushfires in 2019/2020.

Beside Ms Dodds, Hannah Parris told the story of her parents' house burnt down in the Black Summer Bushfires. 

“The fire was so intense that literally nothing could be salvaged from the wreckage. We lost precious family photos and items handed down from our mothers and grandmothers that they took with them when they fled as refugees 90 years ago. Our heirlooms escaped and survived Nazi Germany, but couldn’t survive an Australian summer.”

Tiffany Traverse, an Indigenous officer at the British Colombia Wildfire Service in Canada, and director of the Lutheran Office and Power Policy in California, Regina Banks also highlighted the growing problem of more intense wildfires

“I’m standing here today with people from across the world... to call on world leaders to address these horrific fires at their root cause: the burning of fossil fuels," Ms Dodds said. "We now know that when you can see the fire, it’s too late. Now is the time to act.” according to the report by SBS.

The really scary thing is that the weather that drove Black Summer bushfires in Australia is likely to be average by 2040. 

To avoid even worse fires in future, the Climate Council recommended that Australia reduce its emissions by 75% (below 2005 levels) by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2035. This is based on rigorous scientific risk assessments. Not that the Australian Government has paid much attention to climate science for the last 8 years.

Ad in The Times by Climate Council, Emergency Leaders for Climate Action

Climate councillor and ELCA founder, Greg Mullins, said in a statement from Australia:

“Whether you’re in Los Angeles, Vancouver or Sydney, those of us who hold hoses know just how dangerous climate change has become. What we witnessed during our Black Summer was hell on earth. Fires were so ferocious they created their own weather systems, lightning storms and fire tornadoes. Even with the best firefighting technology on the planet, blazes driven by extreme weather cannot be controlled. 

“No-one wants to go through that again, but unfortunately, because of climate change, we will.

“Our ad – which will be seen by many influential delegates at COP26 – sends a message that we need drastic emissions cuts this decade to protect life, property, and the environment. Unfortunately, in Australia, our government seems intent on making things worse by clinging to polluting fossil fuels.

“Time has run out and there can be no more excuses or meaningless slogans. It’s time to wake up and smell the smoke.”


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