Federal politics: Greens plan to adapt to global warming includes doubling fire fighting resources

Federal politics: Greens plan to adapt to global warming includes doubling fire fighting resources

CONTROVERSIAL policies predicting a decline in volunteer firefighters and demand for more people to sign up as the
world heats up means more resources are needed to fight fires across Australia in future.

Australian Greens have announced a $370 million plan to adapt to global warming, which includes a commitment to doubling the number of paid firefighters by 2030.

Greens Deputy Leader and climate change spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters said Australia was the driest inhabited continent on earth and most Australians lived near the coast, so the extreme weather caused by global warming, including more frequent catastrophic bushfires and sea-level rise, were threatening.

“We must act on global warming by embracing clean energy as quickly as possible, but we’re already feeling severe impacts and we need to prepare and adapt in order to save lives and protect communities,” Senator Waters said.

WA Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said the Federal government funded only about 1 per cent of fire services nationally and needed to step up and contribute in a warming world.

“Earlier this year we saw devastating bushfires rip through Yarloop and Harvey,” she said.

“According to the Climate Council, severe fire danger weather is estimated to almost double in the southwest by 2090 if
emissions are not lowered.

“The Greens will double the number of firefighters by 2030 with an investment of $120 million over four years, an immediate doubling of federal funding, which will increase over time.

“We must boost numbers of paid firefighters to share the increasing workload and provide firefighters with the equipment they need in order to do their all-important job of saving lives.”

Ms Siewert said the Greens plan would also fund better natural disaster preparedness with $200 million over four years, an immediate fivefold increase on current funding.

“Emergency management experts say that every dollar spent on natural disaster preparedness saves at least two dollars in recovery costs,” she said.

“We would increase federal support to States, Territories and local governments to disaster-proof our infrastructure and
better support emergency services like the SES to build community resilience to disasters.”

The Heat Is On report, released this February, said the southwest of WA, one of the most fire-prone areas in the world, was on track to have twice as many days of severe fire danger per year by 2090 “if global carbon emissions are not reduced”.

“Most of the world’s known reserves of coal, oil and gas will need to be left in the ground, including over 90 per cent of Australia’s coal reserves,” it said.

Almost 50 per cent of Liberal voters said they were comfortable with the party directing preferences to the Greens ahead of Labor in key marginal seats, despite the protests of senior figures.

In a News Limited poll, 47 per cent of coalition voters approved of the party putting the Greens ahead of Labor on how-
to-vote cards in the election.

Mr Turnbull said in the recent leaders debate he was committed to climate change” but had “paid a high price”.

He said Environment Minister Greg Hunt was instrumental in getting a 1.5C temperature reduction target in the agree¬
ment.

Labor is moving towards developing a plan to shut down ageing coal-fired power stations.

The climate change policy is also expected to outline a “staged’’ re-introduction of an emissions trading scheme, but so far Labour has not revealed details on how it will reach its goal of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

The policy is close to being finalised after two months of intensive consultations and more than 50 stakeholder meetings.

Apart from looking at how to retire some of Australia’s highest emissions coal-fired power stations, an electricity industry inquiry would be also tasked with mapping how Labor would achieve its ambition of 50 per cent of power generation coming from renewable energy by 2030.