FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2024
Fifteen years after the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires in regional Victoria, which killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2000 homes, bushfire survivors and former emergency service leaders are calling for greater investment in solar and wind power and an end to the burning of climate polluting fossil fuels.
For many people and entire communities, the fires which raged in 2009 from February 7 to March 14, were the first time they came face to face with the shocking impacts of the changing climate.
Greg Mullins AO AFSM, founding member of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action and former Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW, said:
“The ferocity of Black Saturday took fire services by surprise and caused a fundamental rethink about national policies on evacuations and emergency warnings. Climate change is driving longer, more destructive fire seasons, and also worsening floods. Urgent action on climate pollution caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas is imperative.”
Since then, Australia has experienced escalating bushfire disasters and increasingly dangerous fire behaviour, driven by hotter and more unpredictable weather, fuelled by climate change.
Serena Joyner, CEO of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action, said:
“As survivors of these disasters we know the stakes. Without action to tackle climate pollution, more people like us will face extreme fires, floods and other life changing impacts.
“We want everyone to live in a home that’s safe from the extreme impacts of climate change, which is why we support Australia’s renewable energy future.
“Burning coal and gas to generate electricity is the largest source of climate-heating emissions globally, but we know there’s a better way.
“With our abundant wind and sun, world-class technology and legendary know-how we can power Australia with renewable energy instead. This will slash our power bills and create new jobs - all while lowering our emissions and the risk of future extreme impacts.
“So, as we pause today to remember everyone impacted by Black Saturday, and other bushfire disasters, we call on Australians everywhere to join us to protect our communities and help prevent future catastrophes by supporting Australia’s move to renewable energy.”
For more information or interviews:
For Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action, contact: 0407 299 007 / email@example.com
For Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, contact Sean O’Rourke:
0413 666 027 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to editors:
Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action (BSCA) is a non-partisan community of people impacted by bushfires working together to call on our governments, businesses and institutions to take action on climate change. BSCA formed shortly after the Tathra and District fire in March 2018, and its founding members were all impacted by bushfires, including the Black Summer bushfires in 2019-20, Blue Mountains in 2013, Black Saturday in 2009 and Canberra in 2003.
BSCA has been at the cutting edge of legal reform to reduce climate emissions and hold governments, agencies and companies to account. In 2023 the NSW Environment Protection Agency was the first such agency in the country to introduce a climate policy, which it was required to do as a result of landmark court action taken by BSCA.
The Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) are a growing coalition of former senior Australian fire and emergency service leaders who have observed how Australia is experiencing increasingly catastrophic extreme weather events that are putting lives, properties and livelihoods at greater risk and overwhelming our emergency services. ELCA members are focused on communicating the seriousness of the climate change threat, calling for government action on emissions and the necessary resources to better prepare fire and emergency services for increasingly frequent and damaging extreme weather events.