Agence France-Presse

Australia PM Tony Abbott calls wildfires' link with climate change 'hogwash'

Prime Minister Tony Abbott greets locals Ashley More and Spephanie Schoer at Winmalee Fire Station on October 18, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. Abbott has staunchly maintained that climate change has not played a role in the bushfires that are sweeping New South Wales.
Credit: Lisa Maree Williams

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott rejected claims that wildfires in the country were linked to climate change.

He said such an idea was "complete hogwash."

The approximately 200 bushfires burning across New South Wales have caused upwards of $100 million in damages over the last 10 days.

They destroyed at least 200 homes and 296,500 acres of land.

The newly-elected Australian government pushed back on charges that the hotter-than-normal temperatures that caused the blazes were due to climate change.

"These fires are certainly not a function of climate change — they're just a function of life in Australia," Abbott said earlier.

The Australian prime minister grabbed headlines earlier in the week when he accused the UN climate change chief of "talking through her hat."

Abbott's environment minister also stated that no individual event could be linked to climate change.

The Australian government's dismissal of climate change aroused the anger of Al Gore, who criticized Abbott.

"For 40 years the tobacco companies were able to persuade pliant politicians within their grip to tell the public what they wanted them to tell them, and for 40 years the tragedy continued," Gore told ABC TV in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

"And bushfires can occur naturally and do, but the science shows clearly that when the temperature goes up and when the vegetation and soils dry out, then wildfires become more pervasive and more dangerous."

Abbott's government has maintained a hostility to climate change and policies to address it.

One of the first orders of his government was to abolish a carbon tax aimed at reducing emissions.

September was the hottest ever on record in New South Wales, while the 12 months preceding it had been the hottest year on record across the country.

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