Pressing pause on our fossil fuel industry instead of children's education should be the priority says a leading commentator on climate change.
Jo Dodds is the co-founder and president of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action, her comments coming in the wake of a decision to close 20 Far South Coast schools on Tuesday, September 19, amid an 'Extreme' fire danger rating.
The announcement by the Department of Education to temporarily shut schools throughout the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla came late on Monday, leaving many parents scrambling to find alternative arrangements.
"We've been observing the schools being closed today and that means a pause on kids' education," Ms Dodds said Tuesday morning.
"It's also interfering with families who now have to look after their kids out of school, and throwing their work days into chaos.
"But it should be the government pressing pause on coal and gas approvals, not on education."
Ms Dodds questioned state and federal governments' commitment to tackling climate change for the benefit of this and future generations.
"It's clear the fossil fuel industry is behind climate change - the link exists, but not everyone is making that link," she said.
"We're seeing an 'Extreme' fire danger already in early spring.
"If this [schools closure] is every day, then what's the plan for our kids' education?
"Shouldn't it take precedence over the 'inconvenience' and 'hassle' of pausing the fossil fuel industry?
"It's time we had these conversations."
Just last week, members of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action travelled from Queensland, Victoria and NSW to attend meetings in Canberra with MPs and senators from across the political spectrum - asking them to support a pause in fossil fuel approvals "until Australia's flawed environmental assessment laws are reformed".
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Ms Dodds was spurred into action following the devastating March 2018 bushfire that destroyed 65 homes and 35 cabins - and which was sparked on a total fire ban day.
With a total fire ban also in place for Tuesday, September 19, and predictions of temperatures in the high 30s and strong winds, anxiety was understandable.
"I'm pacing now. And I'm sure I'm just one of thousands genuinely scared today.
"Not so much scared of the fires - I know they're coming.
"But scared we're not urgently addressing the cause."