Environment groups welcome Bega MPs climate change stance

The 2019/2020 fires showed the importance of climate change, Bega MP Andrew Constance says. Malua Bay picture: Dion Georgopoulos
The 2019/2020 fires showed the importance of climate change, Bega MP Andrew Constance says. Malua Bay picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Bega MP Andrew Constance has linked the summer bushfires to climate change and has called for action "to get carbon back into the ground".

Environment groups have welcomed his comments, with a Eurobodalla Shire group calling for a clear plan to reach "net-zero emissions by 2050".

"The government also needs to look after the communities which now rely on coal, gas or logging native forests," Eurobodalla 350 spokesman Allan Rees said.

"Mr Constance's proposals to electrify transport and generate local power are useful, but a full plan to get to zero emissions is needed."

Rosedale resident Jack Egan, who lost his home on New Year's Eve, also welcomed Mr Constance's comments.

"I am so heartened to see my local member acknowledging the science that climate change was a key driver of the summer bushfires, which took such a heavy toll on our community," Mr Egan said.

"Our region paid the price for climate change this past summer, with the loss of lives, homes, and livelihoods.

"While everyone is anxious about worsening extreme weather fueled by climate change, and the Federal Government's failure to address the problem, it reduces our anxiety to see our local member acknowledging the science and joining the call for climate action.

"We look forward to working with Mr Constance to usher in job-creating, clean energy solutions that transition our economy away from the key drivers of the climate crisis: the burning of coal, oil, and gas."

The Nature Coast Marine Group congratulated Mr Constance and linked climate change to the restoration of "no-take zones" in the Batemans Marine Park.

"If we are fair dinkum about climate change and look to the future, what we should be talking about is safeguarding more of the marine park as no-take zones," spokesperson Bill Barker said.

"Let's start talking about expanding sanctuary zones to protect more habitat and build greater resilience to climate change and ocean acidification."

Jan Harris lost her family home in the 2018 Reedy Swamp fire said Mr Constance's comments gave her "hope".

"Losing my home was traumatic, and seeing the Federal Government continue to choose the interests of fossil fuel companies over community safety has been so distressing," she said.

"But it gives me hope to see my State member from the Liberal party and Federal Member, who is from the Labor Party, in agreement now on the threat that climate change poses to our community.

"We look forward to working with our elected representatives as they rise above the politics and back policies that transition Australia to a net zero emissions economy that is powered by 100 per cent renewable energy."

Speaking on ABC South East radio, Mr Constance said: "We need to look at climate change differently."

"We have expended enormous energy on debate which is getting the country nowhere. We need to look at water, soil our vegetation. That is a scientfic reality."

Declaring there was "too much politics", Mr Constance called for innovation.

He said the summer bushfires on the Far South Coast were an event of "global significance".

Mr Constance called for a review of forestry practises.

"The resource has been squeezed to the point where there have been challenges," he said.

"We can't keep having the same old arguments. We need to be investing and thinking differently about climate change.

"We have seen the biggest wildfire int he history of the globe here.

"There is too much fragmentation. Our big challenge is to try to get as much carbon into our soil. The key challenge is to reduce the amount of carbon in our atmosphere and get it back into the ground."

Meanwhile Mr Constance has defended embattled NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian after it was revealed she had maintained a close personal relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire.

Speaking on ABC Radio, Mr Constance said Ms Berejiklian had been "open and honest".

He said she had admitted to a "stuff up in relation to what is basically no one's business in terms of her personal relationships".

"She is not going to resign and nor should she. The task is COVID and fire recovery and recession and I think she is leading the state incredibly well.

"There is nothing that suggests to me she has done anything wrong. It is her private relationship and it is not up to me or you or anyone else to be commenting on it. she has turned up, she has been accountable."

This story Climate crunch: Environment groups welcome Andrew Constance stance on bushfires first appeared on Bay Post-Moruya Examiner.