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17/1/2020

New photos of Australia’s record-breaking bushfires show life in a state of climate emergency

Trees smoulder after fire has passed through on the outskirts of the small town of Tumbarumba in the Snowy Mountains, NSW. Australia has seen unprecedented bushfires, after 2019 was recorded as both the hottest and driest year on record.

Greenpeace photographers in Australia have captured new images of the climate-fueled bushfire crisis and its aftermath.


The images include smoke-stricken cities, destroyed homes, struggling wildlife, and firefighting efforts.


Greenpeace Australia Pacific is calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take climate change seriously and protect Australian families by urgently reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, which have been rising for the past four years.


Dr. Nikola Casule, Head of Research and Investigations for Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said: “These catastrophic bushfires are driven by climate change and are destroying lives, homes, and choking people in our major cities. Australian families deserve better than the profound lack of leadership shown by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. We deserve swift and decisive action to address the climate crisis that is hurting so many Australian communities right now, starting with increased funding to our firefighting services, and a commitment to phasing out coal as Australia's number one driver of climate change.”


“Scott Morrison needs to come clean with the Australian people, silence the denialists in his government, and rapidly replace Australia's aging and unreliable coal-burning power stations with clean energy like wind and solar.”

Bushfire in Snowy Mountains, Australia

The New South Wales 'Mega' fire, which measures 1.5 million acres, burns on the outskirts of the small town of Tumbarumba in the Snowy Mountains, NSW. Since blazes broke out in September, Australia has seen unprecedented bushfires destroying nearly 11 million hectares with at least 29 people loosing their lives. It is estimated that more than 1 billion birds, mammals and reptiles, many unique to Australia, will have been affected or killed.

Bushfire in New South Wales, Australia
Trees smoulder in Australian bushfire in Snowy Mountains, New South Wales

Pat Smith, a Rural Fire Service volunteer firefighter from Ariah Park, rescues a possum with burns fleeing a fire on the outskirts of the small town of Tumbarumba in the Snowy Mountains, NSW.

Possum rescued from bushfire in New South Wales Australia

Grant Kitto, a Rural Fire Service volunteer firefighter, fights a fire on the outskirts of the small town of Tumbarumba in the Snowy Mountains, NSW.

Firefighter in Snowy Mountains, New South Wales, Australia

Kangaloola Wildlife Shelter in Victoria, Australia

Joey feeding time at the Kangaloola Wildlife Sanctuary. The kangaroos are split into rooms depending on their age and feeding requirements. Gradually as they get older, they get less and less human contact, until they are moved into an unfenced area of the property that joins the Stanley State Forest and are free to roam in the wild as they like.


Kangaloola Wildlife Shelter is nestled on a private property within the Stanley State Forest, 15 minutes from Yackandandah in Victoria's north-east. Purpose-built and in operation for 25 years, the shelter has more than 100 Australian native animals including kangaroos, koalas, wombats and an emu. The shelter is run by Glenda Elliot and her husband Ron, along with a team of volunteers. In 2003, bushfires threatened the shelter so Glenda took the animals into an old mineshaft on the property to keep them safe. Two fires came into the area and burned all around the mineshaft, however the fires did not impact the shelter because the animals had kept the undergrowth low, reducing the fuel load on the ground.

Joey feeding time at the Kangaloola Wildlife Sanctuary

Wildlife Rescue Centre in New South Wales, Australia

Dr Caitlin McFadden, a local veterinarian from the nearby Milton Veterinary clinic, with a Brush tail possum – badly burned by bushfires on 4 January – that she takes home from the clinic to care for each night. She names the possum Ambo, after the paramedics who rescued him from burnt-out bush in the days following the firestorm.

Brush tail possum badly burned by bushfires

Key facts about Australia's bushfires:

At least 29 lives have been lost across Australia this fire season, including four volunteer firefighters.


More than 2,100 homes have been lost across Australia, including nearly 1,100 in 2020 alone.


Officially, nearly 11 million hectares – an area larger than the state of Tennessee – has burned.


More than 1 billion animals and hundreds of billions of insects have perished in the fires.


Air pollution in the cities of Sydney, Brisbane, and Canberra has routinely been among the most harmful in the world, exacerbating respiratory problems for the young, elderly pregnant women and those with pre-existing conditions like asthma.


2019 was Australia's hottest and driest year on record, confirming that bushfire seasons will run longer and more intensely into the future.


Greenpeace Australia Pacific is calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take climate change seriously and protect Australian families by urgently reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, which have been rising for the past four years.