World

Aussie govt still says no direct link between climate change and fires

MELBOURNE: Australia's government is sticking firmly to a position that there is no direct link between climate change and the country's devastating bush fires, despite public anger, the anguish of victims and warnings from scientists.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor, said Australia does not need to cut carbon emissions more aggressively to limit global warming, even after a three-year drought and unprecedented bush fires.

Instead they said Australia, which contributes 1.3 per cent of the world's carbon emissions but is the second-largest emitter per capita behind the United States, should be rewarded for beating its emissions reduction targets for this year.

"When it comes to reducing global emissions, Australia must and is doing its bit, but bush fires are a time when communities must unite, not divide," Mr Taylor said yesterday.

"In most countries, it isn't acceptable to pursue emission­reduction policies that add substantially to the cost of living, destroy jobs, reduce incomes and impede growth," Mr Taylor wrote in The Australian newspaper on Dec 31.

TAX ON ENERGY

"That's why we won't adopt (opposition) Labor's uncosted, reckless, economy-destroying targets that will always result in a tax on energy, whether it is called that or not."

Mr Taylor did not detail exactly how cutting emissions would raise the cost of living.

Australia's bush fires since September have emitted about 350 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, equal to two-thirds the country's annual emissions from man-made sources, estimated Dr Pep Canadell, director of the Global Carbon Project, based on data from Nasa satellites.

To others, from opposition Labor to film star Russell Crowe, who skipped the Golden Globes awards to fight bush fires in Australia, to US Senator Bernie Sanders, the link is clear between climate change and Australia's fires which have killed 25 people, destroyed thousands of homes and razed more than 8 million ha of land.

"I say to those who are delaying action on climate change: Look at the blood-red sky and `. - REUTERS

WORLD