The impact of climate change on Australia’s unprecedented bushfire crisis will be examined by an independent inquiry set up by the New South Wales state government.
The six-month inquiry will look at the causes of the bushfires, as well as how the state of New South Wales prepared and reacted to them.
It will examine the role climate change played in the disaster, as well as the effects of a long drought and lack of hazard reduction, which is the process of setting controlled fires to burn off vegetation during the cooler months to deny wildfires fuel when the weather heats up.
While global warming is not the direct cause of Australia’s bushfire crisis, scientists have warned that a hotter, drier climate would contribute to the blazes becoming more intense and frequent.
Premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian says the independent inquiry will start within days.
“We want the process to be robust and comprehensive,” she said, “but we also want it to be meaningful so that government can adopt any recommendations ahead of the next bushfire season.”
Bushfires in New South Wales have killed 25 people since September and damaged thousands of homes.
The investigation will be led by Dave Owens, a former senior police commander, and professor Mary O’Kane, a scientist and engineer.
However, with fires still raging, there is criticism that the probe is starting while the crisis continues.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, condemned for his handling of the bushfires and underplaying the role of climate change, has yet to announce the terms of any federal investigation.
Fires Saturday continue to threaten the capital, Canberra. Authorities have declared a state of emergency for the first time since 2003.