Summary statement

There is no strong, resilient Australia without deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions

An open letter on the scientific basis for the links between climate change and bushfires in Australia.

Scientific evidence unequivocally links human-caused climate change to the increasing risk of frequent and severe bushfires in the Australian landscape. That same science tells us these extreme events will only grow worse in the future without genuine concerted action to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases.

We, the undersigned climate, weather and fire scientists, call on our country’s leaders and policymakers to develop science-informed policies to combat human-caused climate change. To be successful, these policies must urgently reduce Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions and lead to constructive engagement and agreements with other world leaders for coordinated global climate action.

We call on our leaders to unite to develop non-partisan, long-term policies that will enable the managed transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 that the scientific evidence shows is required to avoid dangerous human-caused climate change. The science is clear. It is time to show leadership and set a clear path to protect our country and way of life for future generations.

This statement summarises the scientific basis for the links between climate change and bushfires in Australia, and the climate action that is required to limit further worsening of our bushfire risk and build a stronger and more resilient Australia.

Key points:

  • Human-caused climate change is worsening fire-weather and bushfires in southern and eastern Australia.
  • Observations show a trend towards more frequent and extreme fire-weather conditions during summer, and an earlier start to the fire season, particularly in southern and eastern Australia.
  • Australia’s year-to-year climate variability is being altered by climate change. This variability, combined with regional rainfall trends and human-caused warming, contributed to the extremely dangerous bushfire conditions this summer.
  • Dry fuel loads related to widespread drought provided conditions for extensive burning in the 2019/20 bushfires.
  • Australia’s dangerous fire-weather is virtually certain to worsen in the future with ongoing human-induced climate change, making fire management increasingly challenging.
  • Australia is part of the Paris Agreement and has a commitment to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, which would significantly reduce the intensification of Australia’s bushfire risk along with many other climate change risks. The current emission reduction targets of Australia and the world are insufficient and will commit us to 3°C or more of warming by the end of this century.
  • Read the full statement here, including co-signatories and references.

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