Remembering Black Saturday

The ferocity of Black Saturday took fire services by surprise, Greg Mullins AO AFSM said. Picture: Raoul Wegat/AAP

Fifteen years after the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires in regional Victoria, which killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2000 homes, bushfire survivors and former emergency service leaders are calling for greater investment in solar and wind power and an end to the burning of climate polluting fossil fuels.

For many people and entire communities, the fires which raged in 2009 from 7 February to 14 March, were the first time they came face to face with the shocking impacts of the changing climate.

Greg Mullins AO AFSM, founding member of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action and former Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW, said it was important to remember events like Black Saturday and learn from them particularly in current times.

“The ferocity of Black Saturday took fire services by surprise and caused a fundamental rethink about national policies on evacuations and emergency warnings. Climate change is driving longer, more destructive fire seasons, and also worsening floods. Urgent action on climate pollution caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas is imperative,” he said

Since then, Australia has experienced escalating bushfire disasters and increasingly dangerous fire behaviour, driven by hotter and more unpredictable weather, fuelled by climate change.

“As survivors of these disasters we know the stakes. Without action to tackle climate pollution, more people like us will face extreme fires, floods and other life changing impacts,“ Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action CEO Serena Joyner said.

“We want everyone to live in a home that’s safe from the extreme impacts of climate change, which is why we support Australia’s renewable energy future.

“Burning coal and gas to generate electricity is the largest source of climate-heating emissions globally, but we know there’s a better way.

“With our abundant wind and sun, world-class technology and legendary know-how we can power Australia with renewable energy instead. This will slash our power bills and create new jobs – all while lowering our emissions and the risk of future extreme impacts.

“So, as we pause today to remember everyone impacted by Black Saturday, and other bushfire disasters, we call on Australians everywhere to join us to protect our communities and help prevent future catastrophes by supporting Australia’s move to renewable energy.”