The Debate

Why is Australia burning? Bushfires spark calls for urgent overhaul of climate policy

By: François PICARD Follow | Juliette LAURAIN
43 min

You know Australia's unprecedented bushfires are bad when rescuers in New South Wales have to air-drop carrots to hungry wildlife. It's the whole of the southeast that has borne the brunt. Despite slightly cooler temperatures and the promise of rain, dozens of fires remain out of control.


The summer is far from over, and already the clouds of toxic smoke which have engulfed Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney – as seen from NASA satellite imagery from space – have made their way around the world.

After the hottest year on record in Australia, we ask how the planet prepares for the new normal, including whether that means paying more than one-off compensation for volunteer firefighters who have had to put their day jobs on hold to fight the blazes.

Soldiering on through it all is the prime minister. In one month, Scott Morrison's popularity has dropped ten points. He has softened his stance on climate change but still defends his country's coal industry, arguing Australia's output pales in comparison to the likes of China. As we explain over here in Europe, cutting out coal is easier said than done. More broadly, how to switch to cleaner energy much, much faster?

Produced by Charles Wente, Juliette Laurain and Jimena Morales-Velasco.

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