British naturalist Sir David Attenborough says the “moment of crisis” has come in the fight against climate change, warning that governments’ targets for decades in the future were not enough to save the planet.
Noting the destruction being caused by Australia’s current wave of bushfires, he criticised the Federal Government’s approach to climate change during an interview with the BBC, saying the support for coal mines showed the world it did not care about the environment.
“As I speak, south-east Australia is on fire. Why? Because the temperatures of the Earth are increasing,” he said.
“That is a major international catastrophe. And to say, ‘Oh it’s nothing to do with the climate’, is palpably nonsense.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said earlier this week that Australia was improving its resilience and responding “to the reality of the environment in which we live”.
“I think that’s what Australians would want to know coming out of this bushfire season, ultimately, that the resilience efforts that are being made at all levels are meeting the need,” Mr Morrison said.
“Our policy is to reduce emissions, to build resilience and to focus on adaptation. All of these are the necessary responses to what’s happening with our climate.”
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said climate change denial had “infected our politics” in Australia, in an essay he wrote for US-based news magazine Time.
“These fires show that the wicked, self-destructive idiocy of climate denialism must stop,” Mr Turnbull said.
On his time in power, he said the National Energy Guarantee policy was “sabotaged” and “brought down my government”.
“Both times, my efforts to take concerted action on climate change were followed by my losing my job.”
Sir David also called on China in particular to reduce its carbon emissions, saying he thought other countries would follow if China set a lead.
“The moment of crisis has come — we can no longer prevaricate,” he said.
“We have been putting things off year after year, raising targets and saying: ‘Oh well if we do it within the next 20 years…’
“This is an urgent problem that has to be solved. And what is more is that we know how to do it — that’s the paradoxical thing — that we are refusing to take steps that we know have to be taken.”
Sir David’s interview was part of the BBC’s drive to increase coverage of climate change ahead of a UN conference, COP 26, in Glasgow in November 2020.
The 93-year-old raised public awareness around the world of the danger of plastic pollution in oceans with his television series Blue Planet II.
Last year, Britain’s Prince William launched a multi-million-pound prize to find answers to Earth’s biggest environmental problems, saying the planet was now at a tipping point.