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In the midst of record-breaking bushfires in Australia, which has raged through the country since September, the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a major shakeup of public services, including the removal of emissions reductions from the department of environment. While Morrison claims that it will offer “better services on the ground,” it is likely that the move will add fuel to the fire by hampering climate action and ignoring the country’s rising emissions that is driving the biggest planetary emergency of today.
Residents in parts of eastern Australia have begun to abandon their homes since the beginning of this week, as soaring temperatures and winds are fanning mega bushfires north of Sydney, leaving behind huge destruction along the way. Currently, over 100 raging fires continue to blanket the country’s New South Wales and Victoria states, plunging the air quality in Sydney to record-shattering lows that are severely hazardous to human health.
It is in the midst of Australia’s horrific bushfire season with hundreds of fires still currently ablaze at the time of writing that the country’s prime minister Scott Morrison announced that 4 federal government departments will be cut and merged, five secretaries sacked and reduction of emissions to be removed from the department of environment. Under this alarming plan, the new department of industry, science, energy and resources will consolidate the current functions of the environment and energy, including the responsibility for tackling carbon emissions.
While Morrison argues that they are “getting results on emissions reduction,” claiming that the country’s greenhouse gas emissions levels are lower than when the Coalition came into government, the latest figures from official reports indicate that Australia’s carbon footprint is getting worse, not better.
While fires cannot be blamed on the climate crisis alone, experts and scientists across the board agree that this year’s situation has been deeply exacerbated by the rise in global temperatures caused by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, leading to extreme dryness and drought. In a recent study on the 2018 bushfires in northern Queensland in Australia, researchers found that the historic fires were 4 times more likely to have happened due to human-induced climate change.
At least 6 lives have been lost, 680 homes destroyed and 5.1 million acres of bushland have been burned through since September, when the bushfire season began. Earlier last month, Green Queen reported on the destruction of the natural habitat of koalas due to the unprecedented fires, raising alarm bells of conservationists and environmental activists in the country.
This isn’t the first time the prime minister has downgraded efforts to fight the climate crisis. Two months ago, the PM excused himself from attending the United Nations climate action summit, despite him already being in the United States to visit the Trump administration at the time. In another public blunder, Morrison blasted student climate strikers, who have taken to the streets to demand the much-needed end to fossil fuels, to be “less activist“.
Given the scale of the fires, which experts agree are being fuelled by the global climate crisis, the inaction displayed by the Australian government is alarming. Rather than “ultimately deliver[ing] better services for the Australian people,” the move by Morrison is actively contributing to the planet’s most urgent emergency, which will worsen the already intense bushfire season that has destroyed the lives and homes of thousands.
Lead image courtesy of UWW.