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Urgent call to ramp up wildlife protection amidst bushfires

"Our current environment laws don't require the emissions produced by new projects like gas and coal mine to be taken into account when they go through the approval process, even though the emissions that those projects produce are really driving climate change and fueling things like bushfires that posing a direct risk to our environment and all of our precious animal species. So that's why we really need to reform these laws and review them so that we can update them for the current circumstances and really make sure that climate change is taken into account in that process."

Vets for Climate Action's Dr Elise Anderson spoke with the Wire to talk about the need to reform Australia's environmental laws in the face of climate change. 

Listen HERE or read the transcript below. 

 

Transcript - 23 November 2023

Radio Host  00:01

As bushfires intensify in parts of Australia, the federal government grants increased protection to 25 species affected by the fires. However, Vets for Climate Action urges the government to tackle the root cause by strengthening environmental laws to address climate change impact on wildlife. The Wire's Vanessa Gatica speaks to Dr. Elise Anderson, a veterinarian and the rural and regional program leads at vets for climate action, with

 

Vanessa Gatica  00:34

As parts of Australia already witnessing bushfires before the start of summer, the government's decision this week aim at safe warding in 25 species highlights the dire impact of these fires on the country's biodiversity. Nevertheless, Australia's environmental laws fall short indirectly confronting the issue of climate change. The very first amplifying the frequency and severity of these devastating bushfires, Dr. Elise Anderson, a conservation veterinarian from Vets for Climate Action, emphasized the threat climate change process to Australian wildlife.

 

Dr Elise Anderson  01:13

Many of our native species and ecosystems in Australia are really already under threat from factors like habitat loss and pressures like invasive species, when we add climate change into that mix, it really makes the picture much more difficult for them climate change, to increase the natural extremes around already very variable climate here in Australia, and as a result of natural disasters like fires, floods, droughts, heat waves, and it means that these events become more frequent and more widespread. That can lead to, obviously a lot of habitat loss, but also directly to animal death cells. Do you remember horrible 2019 2020 Black summer bushfires, it's estimated that we lost about 3 billion animals in those fires, which I'm sure everybody be agreeing is an absolute tragedy. Unfortunately, many of our animals don't have the capacity to protect themselves or move away from danger when climate change poses this to their habitat and the place they live. So they're really under a lot of pressure and in some trouble.

 

Vanessa Gatica  02:23

In your opinion, why is this crucial for the federal government to strengthen these laws to effectively combat the increasing frequency and severity of bushfires?

 

Dr Elise Anderson  02:33

We know now that we're feeling the effects of climate change here, and now it's no longer hypothetical future threats. And those laws were written over 20 years ago, didn't require decision makers to take into account the contribution that projects might be making to climate change. We know that the primary driver of climate change around the world is the burning of fossil fuels. And that's really contributing most strongly to global heating. Our current environment laws don't require the emissions produced by new projects like gas and coal mine to be taken into account when they go through the approval process, even though the emissions that those projects produce are really driving climate change and fueling things like bushfires that posing a direct risk to our environment and all of our precious animal species. So that's why we really need to reform these laws and review them so that we can update them for the current circumstances and really make sure that climate change is taken into account in that process.

 

Vanessa Gatica  03:34

How is your organization working with the veterinary profession to mitigate the impacts of climate change on animals?

 

Dr Elise Anderson  03:42

Vets for Climate Action obviously, represents members of the veterinary profession that doesn't include just that, but also veterinary nurses, receptionists and other animal care professionals as well. We all work in this industry, because we love animals and protecting the health and welfare animals of animals is part of our daily job. We've climate change, really posing a great threat to the welfare of all different types of animals, we think it's really important for our profession to act not just to be less of a problem, but part of the solution as well. So we both are working to areas First of all, trying to make sure that our professionals weigh in, in the race to get to net zero. So we have programs in place which help members of the veterinary profession and clinics in our community to essentially reduce their emissions and their environmental footprint so that we can be part of the solution and not contribute to the ongoing climate crisis. But we also take events that that the veterinary profession is is really highly trusted one and we have a voice that's affected in our communities, when speaking on behalf of animals for their health and welfare, and we use that trusted position to advocate for education about climate change and also directly to work with governments to work on stronger policy. We do that by meeting with politicians making submissions to different reviews of relevant legislation and running campaigns and educational events. Yeah, we're doing a lot in this space, but obviously there's more to be done.

Radio Host  05:25

That was a veterinarian Dr. Elise Anderson speaking to the Wire's of Vanessa Gatica

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