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Australian Bushfires

Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons on 4th February 2020.

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Photo of Peter Gibson Peter Gibson Conservative, Darlington

What support the Government are providing to Australia to help tackle the bushfires in that country.

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The UK deployed a team of experts on 8 January to assess what support Australia needs, and we are working with Australia to establish where we can work together on this issue.

Photo of Peter Gibson Peter Gibson Conservative, Darlington

I welcome the Government’s pledge to create 500 new hectares of vibrant ecosystems here, but Australia’s ecosystems are facing unprecedented threats following these bushfires. What steps is the Department taking to assist the Australian Government in the recovery of these precious habitats?

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. One of the pieces of work we are doing with Australia, I hope, is on biodiversity and specifically on seeds. We are hoping to work with Kew so that the re-energising of that biodiversity area, which has been so badly affected, will come to fruition, if I can use that word. It is excellent that our experts will be working completely hand in hand with the Australian authorities.

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

What discussions have the Government had with the Australian Government about the link between the bushfires and climate change to make sure that the Australian Government get serious about tackling carbon emissions in their country?

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. Australia is a signatory to the Paris agreement, and a number of Australian states have already committed to net zero by 2050. Ahead of COP26 we look forward to working with Australia to increase its climate ambition, in line with principles that it has already agreed to.