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Tech & Science Australia softens climate change rhetoric as bushfires, and voters, rage

07:50  15 january  2020
07:50  15 january  2020 Source:   reuters.com

Australians protest over climate change policy as bushfires rage

  Australians protest over climate change policy as bushfires rage Australians protest over climate change policy as bushfires rageSYDNEY (Reuters) - Thousands of Australians took to the streets on Friday to protest against government inaction on climate change, as bushfires ravage large swathes of the country, incinerating wildlife and polluting the air.

Raging bushfires have razed properties in Australia and briefly spread to suburbs of Sydney, officials say. Australia 's conservative government has refused to be drawn on whether climate change could have contributed to the fires, in a response that has drawn criticism.

Protesters called for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to be sacked during a climate change rally that took place in Melbourne on Friday, as fires

Scott Morrison wearing a suit and tie: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S.© Reuters/LUCAS JACKSON Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S.

By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Three years ago, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, then Treasurer, brandished a lump of coal in parliament as a totem of how the ruling conservative coalition planned to keep the lights on and power prices low.

Now, with the country experiencing one of its worst ever bushfire seasons and facing criticism for his pro-coal policies, Morrison is acknowledging climate change is real. He is also talking about "adaptation" and "resilience".

Climate change protests stretch to London as Australia bushfires rage

  Climate change protests stretch to London as Australia bushfires rage Climate change protests stretch to London as Australia bushfires rageSYDNEY/LONDON (Reuters) - Thousands of Australians took to the streets on Friday to protest against government inaction on climate change, as bushfires ravaged tens of thousands of square miles of bushland after months of destruction and at least 27 deaths.

The bushfire crisis has piled pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison's conservative government to do more to combat climate change after Australia weakened its commitment to the U.N. Paris climate accord last year.

SYDNEY/LONDON - Thousands of Australians took to the streets on Friday to protest against government inaction on climate change , as bushfires ravaged tens of thousands of square miles of bushland after months of destruction and at least 27 deaths.

"I think we want to have a high level of confidence that as a nation we are improving our resilience and our adaptation to respond to the reality of the environment in which we live," Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

Australia's Science Minister Karen Andrews told the Sydney Morning Herald in an interview that climate denial was a waste of time, as she echoed Morrison's "adaptation" mantra.

As bushfires tore through New South Wales state in December, Morrison avoided drawing a link between the unusually early and ferocious fire season and climate change, saying the time was not right for such discussions. Just last week he said Sydney radio 2GB it was disappointing that people were conflating the bushfire crisis with Australia's emission reduction targets.

James Murdoch is fed up with his father's companies' climate denial in News Corp and Fox's coverage of the Australian bushfires

  James Murdoch is fed up with his father's companies' climate denial in News Corp and Fox's coverage of the Australian bushfires Rupert Murdoch's son and daughter-in-law issued a sharp condemnation of Murdoch-owned publications, telling The Daily Beast they were disappointed in the climate-change denialism amid the deadly bushfire crisis in Australia. "Kathryn and James' views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known," a spokesperson for the couple told The Daily Beast. The fires have destroyed millions of acres and are thought to have killed nearly one billion animals in recent weeks and months.

Australia 's deadliest bushfire disaster was "Black Saturday" in February 2009, when some 180 people died So is this down to climate change ? Many Australians are asking that very question - but the Scientists have long warned that a hotter, drier climate will contribute to fires becoming more frequent

After months of raging bushfires that have ravaged more than 10.3 million hectares of land, an area roughly the size of South Korea * Thousands of Australians took to the streets on Friday to protest against government inaction on climate change , and were supported by protesters in London.

a group of sheep standing next to a forest: FILE PHOTO: An injured kangaroo limps through burnt bushland in Cobargo© Reuters/Tracey Nearmy FILE PHOTO: An injured kangaroo limps through burnt bushland in Cobargo

While the softening of his stance is significant, scepticism remains over whether it will translate to a stronger climate policy as large swathes of the country continue to burn.

"It's much overdue for the government to seriously engage on climate change adaptation," said Frank Jotzo, a professor at the Australian National University's Crawford School of Public Policy.

"But what also needs to happen is for the Australian government to take a proactive stance on climate mitigation, that is, to reduce green house emissions. And there is still no clear signs that's about to happen."

Blazes burning since September have claimed the lives of 28 people, killed more than a billion animals and ripped through forests and farmland the size of Bulgaria.

The hazy skies in Australia's major cities have become a common occurrence, denting the country's clean and green image, hurting tourism and consumer sentiment.

Aust must 'get serious' on climate: Kean

  Aust must 'get serious' on climate: Kean NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean says Australia should "get serious" on climate change policy and avoid needless debates in Canberra. The NSW environment minister has hit out at climate change sceptics within the federal government amid an unprecedented bushfire season, and warned Australia's coal export markets are beginning to decarbonise.Matt Kean on Tuesday said a royal commission into the bushfire crisis - for which Prime Minister Scott Morrison is preparing a proposal - would not hinder state-based inquiries as flagged by NSW and Victoria. require(["inlineoutstreamAd", "c.

Australia is experiencing one of its worst bushfire seasons on record, with fires burning since September and claiming the lives of 28 Morrison's conservative government has faced domestic and international criticism for its handling of the fire threat and its response to climate change .

After months of raging bushfires that have ravaged more than 10.3 million hectares His approval rating was overtaken by opposition Labor leader Anthony Albanese in the poll, which surveyed 1,505 voters . ** Western Australia Department of Fire and Emergency Services said on Sunday an

KING COAL

The mood in the country is also changing.

A poll from the Australia Institute on Wednesday showed the country's bushfire crisis has intensified concerns about climate change with almost seven in 10 Australians wanting the government to lead on climate action.

Morrison, whose popularity has sunk to its lowest levels since he took over leadership in 2018 over the government's bushfire response, continues to espouse the merits of coal.

"Our resources industry is incredibly important to Australia," he reiterated on Wednesday, adding coal "is worth A$70 billion ($48.3 billion) to Australia and it is important to communities across the country."

Mining jobs account for just under 2% of all employment in the country, miniscule in comparison with construction, retail, healthcare and tourism-related sectors.

Morrison repeated his government will "meet and beat" a 26% global emissions reduction target agreed in Paris, "without putting taxes on people, putting up electricity prices and pulling out the rugs from regional communities who depend on the sector for their livelihoods."

Academics and climate scientists say 26% is a lowball reductions target especially if as planned Australia uses its old carbon credits from the 1992 Kyoto Protocol - another sore point for activists.

Australia’s reliance on coal-fired power makes it one of the world’s largest carbon emitters per capita and last year it approved a huge new coal mine by India's Adani Enterprises .

U.S. climatologist and geophysicist Michael Mann told Reuters that Morrison's position was "ridiculous".

"If we continue to warm the planet, then we will in all likelihood exceed our adaptive capacity," he said in an email.

"In other words, there is no amount of adaptation that will allow Australians to contend with the impacts of climate change if we allow for a further escalation of the problem."

In fact, Mann said, Australia could become so hot and dry that its residents could join the ranks of the world's "climate refugees."

(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

Cabinet minister warns climate deniers are robbing Australia of time responding to its impacts .
Australia is wasting time debating the merits of climate change and should instead focus its attention on responding to it, Science Minister Karen Andrews has warned.Science Minister Karen Andrews said it was time to move on from ideological battles, which she said had robbed the nation of the time and energy needed to respond to climate change.

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