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‘Planet breaking down’: Firefighters speak out on climate crisis after IPCC report

Emergency service calls on governments around world to heed environmental warnings

Lamiat Sabin
Tuesday 10 August 2021 14:13 BST
Related video: 5 key takeaways from the IPCC’s landmark climate report

Firefighters have sounded the alarm over the urgent need to tackle climate change after a new report from the UN warned that the Earth continuing to heat up will create more devastating consequences.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that time is running out to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions to avert a climate catastrophe.

“It is more likely than not” that the world’s temperatures will increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels sometime over the next 20 years, and 2C by 2100 – the report, authored by 234 scientists in 66 countries, published on Monday said.

Temperatures currently stand at around 1.2C above pre-industrial levels.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack said that firefighters around the world were on the frontline of rescue efforts in floods and wildfires that have affected many regions in the last few weeks alone.

In response to the IPCC report, he called on governments around the globe to prevent the “planet rapidly breaking down”.

Mr Wrack said: “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. But this requires fundamental political, social and economic change across the world, and those in power have, so far, failed in the face of this immense challenge.

“The report tallies closely with what firefighters across the world experience on a daily basis: a planet rapidly breaking down.

“Now, we have a view of the bigger picture – that humanity has a final chance to act before huge devastation occurs.”

Mr Wrack’s response to the UN report is not the first time that he has spoken out on climate change.

During this year’s widespread flooding across the UK, he criticised the government for not doing enough to tackle climate change driven by big business, and called for more funding and resources for firefighters to help them carry out their rescues.

In November 2020, he criticised the government for axing 11,200 firefighters over the previous 10 years at the same time as the frequency of extreme weather events in the UK has increased.

In September last year, he said that firefighters had been called out to more flooding incidents than fires in some regions of the UK.

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