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UN Climate Chief: Wildfires 'Absolutely' Linked to Climate Change

'What we have seen are just introductions to the doom and gloom that we could be facing'

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Wildfires are "absolutely" linked to climate change, and the scores of bushfires currently raging in Australia offer an eerie picture into the "gloom and doom" the world could be facing, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said on Monday.

Asked during an interview by CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Monday, "Is there a link between climate and wildfires/brushfires?" the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) responded, "Yes, there is.  Absolutely."

Though she said that "the World Meteorological Organization has not established a direct link between this wildfire and climate change – yet,” referring to the bushfires in New South Wales, she said that "what is absolutely clear is the science is telling us that there are increasing heat waves in Asia, Europe, and Australia; that there these will continue; that they will continue in their intensity and in their frequency.”

In recent days, the connection between climate change and the bushfires has been raised by Australian politicians and scientists alike.

As CNN projected images of the bushfires, Figueres said, "What we've just seen on the screen is an example of what we may be looking at unless we take actually vigorous action."

“What we have seen are just introductions to the doom and gloom that we could be facing," Figueres warned.

"But that’s not the only scenario,” she told Amanpour. “We could – as humankind – we could take vigorous action and we could have a very, very different scenario. That’s a scenario that is worth examining.”

This is a point she echoed while speaking with BBC on the sidelines of a climate conference at Chatham House in London. 

"I just feel that it is so completely unfair and immoral what we are doing to future generations, we are condemning them before they are even born," Figueres told BBC.

"We have a choice about it, that's the point, we have a choice. If it were inevitable then so be it, but we have a choice to change the future we are going to give our children."

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Watch the CNN interview between Amanpour and Figueres below:


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