The FBU says 'climate catastrophe is the number one global issue facing the planet'.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has hit out at politicians and others who are downplaying the threat of climate change or who think we can afford to act slowly, accusing them of being ‘criminally complacent’.
The general secretary of the union, Matt Wrack, told LFF in an interview that the issue of climate catastrophe is the number one global issue facing the planet and that the recent UN report on climate change confirmed what was already known, which is that human activity is driving climate change.
He said: “Firefighters are on the front line here and across the world. If you look at north America, every year there are firefighters dying in the most powerful country in the world in wildfires. In Australia, we’ve seen devastating bush fires and then in the poorer countries of the world we’re seeing horrific impacts from climate change in terms of floods, draught devastating economies and whole societies.”
Wrack said that firefighters were in desperate need of better funding and investment so that they can ‘mitigate the impact of climate change’.
He added: “Fire services in the UK have been devastated in terms of their staffing levels which undoubtedly has impacted our ability to tackle large scale incidents like that.”
It comes after the union had issued a statement earlier in the week in response to the climate change report by the UN, the world’s largest ever report into climate change, which warned that within the next two decades, temperatures are likely to rise by more than the 1.5C limit, bringing widespread devastation and extreme weather.
The report warned that if emissions don’t fall in the next couple of decades then temperatures could rise by 3C, and if they don’t fall at all temperatures will rise by 4-5C.
That would result in devastating consequences for the planet.
Wrack said in response to the report: “Firefighters here and across the world are on the front line of the climate crisis. We see the effects of climate change every time we fight wildfires and save people from floods, and we will fight as hard as we can for politicians to wake up and take notice. As a humanitarian service we cannot stand by and watch this happen.
“This report confirms that human activity is responsible for climate change and we are running out of time to save ourselves.”
Wrack also told LFF that there needed to be greater levels of cooperation between fire services across the world so that they could learn from one another on how to effectively combat fires and flooding.
Basit Mahmood is co-editor of Left Foot Forward