By Lucy Manne, 350 Australia CEO

Never seen before.

That is how experts are describing the intensity and scale of bushfires we are witnessing in Queensland and New South Wales these first weeks of spring, which marks the worst start to Australia’s fire season in recorded history [1].

It is a shock to witness hundreds of Australians gathered in evacuation shelters, while crews battle over 100 fires just one week after the end of winter.

Our hearts are with everyone today who is fighting back fear – for themselves, their families, their homes, their friends on the front lines of these fires. 

We know there is no question that blazing fires this early in the season are a sign of the climate crisis. Climate scientists have confirmed that the weather associated with bushfires is becoming more frequent and more intense, bringing forward the start of the fire season [2].

We also know without question who is responsible. Just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of the global greenhouse gas emissions that have fuelled the climate crisis [3].

What is up for question is how long the Australian government can keep willfully and dangerously ignoring its responsibility to tackle the climate crisis by reducing our emissions and keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground.

It’s painfully ironic to see the Queensland government prepared to go to any lengths to approve construction for one of the biggest coal mines in the world, while its people are already suffering at the hands of the coal-fuelled climate crisis. What helps us make sense of this contradiction is analysis which shows that that mining and energy corporations have used paid lobbyists to access the Queensland government over 200 times in the last six years – more than a quarter of all recorded lobbyist contracts in Queensland, and far more than any other industry [4].

And at the national level, our Federal government is estimated to give $29 billion in subsidies to these fossil fuel companies, effectively paying them to keep wrecking the safe future we deserve [5].

What the fires this week have shown is that the fossil fuel industry’s grip on our politicians is putting at risk the people and places we love. And these effects are happening earlier, faster, and with greater severity than we have seen before – putting our firefighters and the communities they are protecting at risk.

But let that only motivate us more. Because the way we break the grip that fossil fuel executives’ money and lobbyists have over our government is with the biggest, boldest and most unrelenting people-powered movement possible.

The September 20 global Climate Strike is one of the best opportunities we have to show and grow the power of our movement. There are just 9 days to go. Hold in your heart those on the front lines of this crisis, and join us on September 20 as we pack the streets for a safe climate future.


[1] The Australian: Queensland, NSW fires: ‘Nightmare’ blazes, Sunshine Coast miracle

[2] Sydney Morning Herald: Fires are burning where they never used to burn

[3] The Guardian: Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says

[4] The Guardian: Mining lobbyists access Queensland government 214 times in six years

[5] Renew Economy: Global fossil fuel subsidies reach $5.2 trillion, and $29 billion in Australia