Tens of thousands of Australians rallied across the country Friday calling on the conservative government to tackle global warming and cut back on fossil fuels, as deadly climate-fuelled bushfires burned out of control.
At least 26 people have died, more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed in the unprecedented blazes.
“The lives that have been lost have been caused by our inaction,” protestor Monty Oldroyd told AFP.
“It’s been absolutely devastating. I’ve had multiple friends and family who live in rural areas who had their homes threatened and even destroyed, and livelihoods have been lost.”
There has been increasing anger over the cause of the fires, with some Australians accusing Scott Morrison’s government of failing to act on climate change and supporting coal mining that has contributed to global warming.
Demonstrators held up signs including “change the politics not the climate” and “trust the science”, and called for Morrison to step down.
The severe fire conditions have been fuelled by a prolonged drought and worsened by climate change, with experts warning that such massive blazes were becoming more frequent and intense.
Australia experienced its driest and hottest year on record in 2019, with its highest average maximum temperature of 41.9 degrees Celsius (107.4 degrees Fahrenheit) recorded in mid-December.
The country is one of the world’s worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters, due to heavy use of coal-fired power and a relatively small population of around 25 million.
“I believe that the government has to take action now… if we are to reverse the effects (of climate change) for our future generations for our planet, our people, and our animals,” protester Victoria Edghill told AFP.