OPINION

Australians deserve to know their MP is working to protect them from climate impacts

Australians deserve to know their MP is working to protect them from climate impacts

The recent end of Victoria's fourth lockdown should have allowed residents to breathe a sigh of relief, but many people immediately found themselves facing another massive challenge: wild, dangerous weather.

The recent spate of floods and storms have been horrific.

People have died; communities have been left without power for days; homes and businesses have been damaged; and even the state's largest power station, Yallourn, was taken offline due to flood risk.

It's confronting to think about how extreme weather events like floods and storms can disrupt so many aspects of our life, and put us all in danger.

Even more confronting is the fact that climate change is supercharging these disasters.

Floods and storms, for instance, are occurring in an atmosphere that is getting warmer and wetter, which can hold more water vapour and provide more energy for systems that generate rainfall.

That means more communities across Australia are in for more extreme downpours and destructive storms due to climate change, not to mention worsening bushfires.

Often, communities barely get a chance to recover from one disaster before the next one strikes - just ask Gippsland or northern NSW towns affected by fires and floods.

It's heartbreaking to think about the uncertainty this causes.

No matter where they live, Australians deserve to feel safe; to know their elected leaders are working to protect them from worsening extreme weather.

That's why Emergency Leaders for Climate Action - a coalition of former fire and emergency service leaders - has launched the Community Protection Pledge.

A set of 10 commitments, the pledge invites federal MPs to address the root cause by accelerating efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It also calls for urgently implementing all 80 recommendations of the recent Bushfire Royal Commission; investing in community preparedness solutions such as warning systems and resilience hubs; and ensuring that Australia's infrastructure can cope with more intense weather events.

We've made it easy to check if your MP has signed this pledge - and ask them to do so if they haven't.

Thirteen MPs from major parties and independents have signed so far, and thousands of Australians have emailed their MPs.

I hope all 151 MPs will make this commitment to their communities, putting our safety at the top of their agenda.

After all, it's what people expect, and deserve.

Mary Barry is the former chief executive of Victoria's State Emergency Service. To find out if your local MP has signed, visit www.emergencyleadersforclimateaction.org.au/community-protection-pledge

This story Australians deserve to know their MP is working to protect them from climate impacts first appeared on The Canberra Times.