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Jakarta Post

Tragedy of Australian fires and climate policies

  • Bjorn Lomborg

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PREMIUM
Copenhagen   /   Tue, February 25, 2020   /  11:38 am
Tragedy of Australian fires and climate policies The afternoon sky glows orange from bushfires in the area around the town of Nowra in the Australian state of New South Wales on December 31, 2019. Thousands of holidaymakers and locals were forced to flee to beaches in fire-ravaged southeast Australia on December 31, as blazes ripped through popular tourist areas leaving no escape by land. (AFP/Saeed Khan)

Scenes of devastation from Australia’s fires have been heartbreaking. How do we stop this suffering? For many campaigners and politicians, the answer is clear-cut: drastic climate policies. When we examine the evidence, this simple answer falls short. Australia is the world’s most fire-prone continent. In 1900, 11 percent of its surface burned annually. These days, some 5 percent of the country burns every year. By the end of the century, if we do not stop climate change, higher temperatures and an increase in aridity will likely mean a 0.7 percentage point increase in burned area, an increase from 5.3 percent of Australia to 6 percent. This increase is not trivial, and it is an argument for effective climate change action. By far the most impactful, practical policy is a dramatic increase in investment in low- and zero-carbon energy innovation. That’s becau...

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.