Fire disaster in Australia: victims, perpetrators, ignorant

Australia is threatened by the climate crisis in a way no other industry in the country. Nevertheless, there has been virtually no climate policy. coal mining

Fire disaster in Australia: victims, perpetrators, ignorant

Australia is threatened by the climate crisis in a way no other industry in the country. Nevertheless, there has been virtually no climate policy.

coal mining in Queensland: coal is the second most important export commodity in Australia photo by Jean Paul Ferrero/imago-images

BERLIN taz | environmentalists from the "Climate Action Network" (CAN) were horrified. At the UN climate change conference in Madrid your Newsletter asked: "Australia is it possible to be so bad?"

The answer is the policy of the last years. While the continent of the largest heat wave, drought and fire disaster in the country's recent history is haunted, denied the conservative government at home and internationally, an effective climate policy. Australia has reduced its emissions, hardly, has goals, gentle climate, and no concrete plans for the Expansion of renewable energies. Regularly Australia lands in the countries of protection compare to the climate in the rear seats. The government has denied the money for the "green climate Fund" of the UN and didn't go to the "climate action summit" by UN chief Guterres in September.

the climate crisis Down Under is very present. No industrial country is more vulnerable than the southern continent, none has a worse climate balance and in no other country in the world's climate policy is so important that you decide on a regular basis about the fate of the government. "Australia is at the forefront of climate change," says Bill Hare, Director of the renowned think-tanks "Climate Analytics" and self-Australians. "But our vulnerability is often overlooked."

This begins with the geography. "Our continent is environmentally very vulnerable," says Hare: The South is a vast dry area, prone to heat and drought, the soil is poor, agriculture now suffers under a three-year dry period. The Great Barrier Reef off the North East coast is dying because of climate change the ocean is warmed. Many of the forests consist of eucalyptus trees, which is also due to their resin burn like tinder. But a democratic System of Western prosperity and a good social network reported according to Bill Hare, a stability that rises is currently just visible in the smoke.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his government have long denied that there could be a connection to the fire disaster of climate change. In November, Vice-Premier McCormack called the idea of Green and "urban Crazy". In fact, there is in the country a number of large fires. Whether it is to fire a fingerprint of climate change in the Bush, we calculated currently, a working group at the University of Oxford. Results are expected by the end of January.

However, the record heat, the drought Record and the record of fire carefully to the warnings, the has published about the UN-intergovernmental panel on climate change IPCC for the Region of fit. In 2013, the Australian weather authority introduced for temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius on the scale, the warning colour Purple. And the climate report by the government of 2018 sounds like a prediction of the disaster: More than a degree of warming in the long-term average, the decline in rainfall and river levels in the South and "long-term increase in extreme fire weather and the length of the fire season".

The Australian Per-capita emissions of greenhouse gases are among the highest among the industrial countries,

Greg Mullins, the former chief of the fire Department in the concerned state of New South Wales, the thing is already clear: "In the Public eye, the penny dropped that our uncontrollable fire are driven by climate change," he told the US radio station NPR. "Our national government wants nothing to do with climate change. As the chief of the fire Department, we have watched the Bush fires, the storms, the Floods are getting worse, when extreme weather are becoming more extreme. In Australia, regions that have not yet burned never burn now.“

is How bad the ecological balance of the continent, has a Climate Analytics, noted in a recent study: The Per-capita emissions of 26 million people, greenhouse gas emissions are about 25 tons per year, the highest among the industrialized countries (Germany: 11 tons), the climate targets for 2030, however, to the weakest; the promised reduction of 26 percent by 2030, intends to provide the government, in large part, by the trickery of accounting – this tough stance was one of the reasons for the Failure of the climate conference in Madrid.

the "fair share" of Australia on the global climate, economy, and history would include, for the experts from Climate Analytics in the case of a Minus between 47 and 85 percent. Because state requirements are missing, the waste industry, power plants and transport apply significantly more energy than in other countries, in part, the country is worse off than India and China. Forest fires exacerbate the situation: According to initial estimates, the fire disaster has so far almost 350 million tons of CO2 – an increase of over 60 percent to the CO2 emissions of the country.

In the capital, Canberra, the climate issue between the alternating governments, a hot iron: The Kyoto Protocol was not ratified for many years. An emissions trading was introduced in 2012 by the laboratory and, in 2014, the Conservatives abolished. The current Prime Morrison has also used energy policy to his party colleague Malcolm Turnbull to get rid of the touts for limited climate protection.

"climate policy in Australia is the question of elections to decide," says Frank Jotzo, Director of the center for climate and energy policy at the Australian National University in Canberra. In the country and the policy, the coal is everywhere: it generates about two-thirds of the electricity and is the second most important export item of the country.

on the Other hand, have said in surveys for about two-thirds of the population, the climate issue is a high priority, Jotzo, which may be due to the forest fires even more. Even if the Federal government is denied long-term climate plan, the Federal States would also have plans for a "dekarbonisierte" economy.

"even now, new Solar - and wind power plants is much cheaper than new coal," says Jotzo. "In the medium term, our electricity will come completely from Renewable and coal remain the only export commodity." The scientist sees the disaster as a Chance for a change of direction: "This crisis could be a turning point. Prime Morrison is not so far act included in its Position. Forest fires give him a reason to change that.“

The Premier could now protect his country from harm, a deeply conservative attitude, as if you had conservative governments in the UK and Germany, so Jotzo: "Perhaps 2020 will be the year where the political dispute begins about what exactly are we doing against climate change, and not more, whether we act at all."

A possible first characters: On the weekend, Morrison announced a Commission to investigate the fires, and suggested that the government could talk about stricter climate targets. Climate policy in Australia is a burning question.

Date Of Update: 14 January 2020, 11:00

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