National summit on bushfire and climate change begins today

09 June 2020

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AUSTRALIA – Though winter is upon us, the tragedy of the summer fire season is still in the air. Today community leaders and many experts will join together for a national summit to looks at how we can do things better.

The inaugural National Bushfire and Climate Summit 2020 will convene former fire and emergency chiefs, ex-defence personnel, Indigenous experts, and climate scientists today, June 9, to strengthen Australia’s response to rising bushfire danger, fuelled by climate change.

Hosted by six-time Walkley Award winner Kerry O’Brien and former NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner Greg Mullins, the summit will kick off with a live-streamed free public panel on a nationally coordinated response to the challenges presented by the 2019-2020 bushfires.

Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) founder Greg Mullins said the summit was called in the midst of an unprecedented bushfire season last December, out of deep concern over the Federal Government’s failure to address the bushfire and climate crisis.

‘Six months on, we have several inquiries underway including the Bushfire Royal Commission. Our summit complements these efforts.

‘Our community-funded, independent event brings a range of voices to the table that the Royal Commission may not have time to hear from. This adds depth to the conversation, particularly around the critical role that climate change plays in Australia’s worsening bushfires. ‘

Four closed-door roundtables

Following the public panel, the National Bushfire and Climate Summit 2020 will consist of four closed-door roundtables and conclude with a public wrap-up event on 29 July, where ELCA will share the recommendations arising from the closed-door sessions.

‘We would hope the Royal Commission takes our recommendations on board,’ said Mr Mullins.

‘The summit also marks the establishment of a network of key stakeholders, who will continue to share ideas, knowledge, and collaborate on efforts to advance recommendations on how we can prevent worsening bushfires and build resilience to withstand future fire seasons.

A lot of work ahead of us

‘We have a lot of work ahead of us, continuing to urge the Federal Government to adopt a credible climate policy with a plan to phase out coal, oil and gas—the biggest drivers of climate change.

‘There needs to be ongoing funding of bushfire research and more work to prepare firefighting agencies for climate-supercharged bushfires. Climate change also needs to be integrated into our National Security Strategy.

‘The summit is an important milestone in the national effort to address Australia’s climate change-fuelled bushfire crisis, and we hope the Government will listen to the science and experts, just like they did with COVID-19.’

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