National News

National summit to examine worsening bushfire conditions and climate change

The inaugural National Bushfire and Climate Summit 2020 will convene former fire and emergency chiefs, ex-defence personnel, Indigenous experts, and climate scientists on Tuesday June 9 to strengthen Australia’s response to rising bushfire danger, fuelled by climate change.

Hosted by six-time Walkley Award winner Kerry O’Brien and former NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner Greg Mullins, the summit will kick off with a free public panel on a nationally coordinated response to the challenges presented by the 2019-2020 bushfires. 

“We called this summit in the midst of an unprecedented bushfire season last December, out of deep concern over the Federal Government’s failure to address the bushfire and climate crisis,” said Greg Mullins, who founded Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA). 

“Six months on, we have several inquiries underway including the Bushfire Royal Commission. Our summit complements these efforts. 

“Our community-funded, independent event brings a range of voices to the table that the Royal Commission may not have time to hear from. This adds depth to the conversation, particularly around the critical role that climate change plays in Australia’s worsening bushfires. 

Following the public panel, the National Bushfire and Climate Summit 2020 will consist of four closed-door roundtables and conclude with a public wrap-up event on 29 July, where ELCA will share the recommendations arising from the closed-door sessions.  

“We would hope the Royal Commission takes our recommendations on board,” said Mr Mullins.

“The summit also marks the establishment of a network of key stakeholders, who will continue to share ideas, knowledge, and collaborate on efforts to advance recommendations on how we can prevent worsening bushfires and build resilience to withstand future fire seasons,” said Mr Mullins. 

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, continuing to urge the Federal Government to adopt a credible climate policy with a plan to phase out coal, oil and gas—the biggest drivers of climate change. 

“There needs to be ongoing funding of bushfire research and more work to prepare firefighting agencies for climate-supercharged bushfires. Climate change also needs to be integrated into our National Security Strategy. 

“The summit is an important milestone in the national effort to address Australia’s climate change-fuelled bushfire crisis, and we hope the Government will listen to the science and experts, just like they did with COVID-19,” said Mr Mullins. 

National Bushfire and Climate Summit 2020

What is it?
The 2020 National Bushfire and Climate Summit is Australia’s first virtual bushfire and climate change summit, bringing together representatives from fire and emergency services, the military and home affairs, industry, economists, farmers, the health sector, veterinarians, scientists and local governments. The summit is organised by the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, a growing coalition of former fire and emergency chiefs working to ensure that fire and emergency services are equipped to protect Australian communities from increasingly frequent and damaging extreme weather events.

When is it?
The summit will kick off with a free public livestreamed panel on 9 June 2020. Through June and July, ELCA will then convene four closed-door roundtables to discuss a nationally coordinated response to the bushfire crisis fuelled by climate change; the cost of bushfires fuelled by climate change; and impacts on regional NSW and VIC communities respectively. 

The summit will conclude with a free public livestreamed panel on 29 July 2020, where ELCA will share recommendations from the closed-door roundtables. 

Who’s speaking?
Speakers at the public panel on 9 June 2020 are: 

  • Ken Pimlott, former Fire Chief of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire)
  • Oliver Costello, CEO of Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation
  • Cheryl Durrant, Former Head of Defence Preparedness
  • Naomi Brown, former CEO Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC)
  • Professor Lesley Hughes, Climate Councillor
  • Amanda McKenzie, CEO, Climate Council