Labour’s Anneliese Dodds has declared that the fires that have been seen breaking out across the country must be a “wake-up call” for the UK and argued that the government has been “too far behind” its own climate action targets.
A total of 16 fire and rescue services declared major incidents during a heatwave on Tuesday, with firefighters responding to wildfires and other blazes as record-high temperatures were recorded in areas of the country.
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack accused government ministers and chief fire officers of “criminal complacency” over their failure to respond to warnings about the threat of the climate emergency.
Interviewed on Sky News this morning, Dodds said: “This really must be a wake-up call. We have been too far behind our own targets in this country when it comes to action against the climate crisis.
“We have not been taking the measures needed to adapt to those climate changes. We can take action – we must take action now.
“Labour set out plans for example for a climate investment pledge, so that we can actually get those jobs related to homegrown renewables for our country and face up to the climate crisis at the same time.
“And we can also make those changes needed to adapt our country and to build resilience here. Again, we set out plans for making our country more resilient. We cannot have any more delays on this. We really must act now.”
Commenting on video footage of the destruction caused by the fires on Tuesday, the Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary said: “Everyone watching those scenes will be absolutely appalled by what has happened to those people and their homes and would want to express every sympathy with them.
“I’m sure people would also want to say to those firefighters who’ve been battling these blazes so heroically quite how grateful we are to them for all of the work they’ve been doing.”
The FBU highlighted the impact of cuts to firefighter numbers in recent years, noting that each of the of the services that declared major incidents had seen their staff numbers reduced since 2010, some by more than 30%.
Wrack said: “Firefighters are at the forefront of the climate emergency. The demands of the job are increasing but our resources have been under attack by government cuts for over a decade. 11,500 firefighter jobs have been slashed since 2010.
“We have warned of the growing threat for years but our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. The brutal truth is that government ministers and Chief Fire Officers have ignored the warning signs which have been obvious for all to see. They are guilty of criminal complacency.”
He added: “The same people then tell frontline firefighters to tighten their belts and accept a cut in their pay. We will not accept a paltry pay offer of 2% when the demands of the job are increasing, and the cost of food, fuel, energy and almost everything else is soaring.
“There is a growing anger at the way firefighters have been treated for more than a decade and at the way our service is being dismantled in front of our eyes.”
"This must be a wake up call".
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