Since September 2019, hundreds of bushfires have scorched a huge swath across Australia, driven by a long drought, intense summer temperatures and vicious winds. They have destroyed an estimated 41,000 square miles of forest, an area larger than Scotland and Wales combined. It is the sort of apocalyptic scene that brings to mind some of the more extreme predictions of climate change.
As the fires burnt, 27,000 delegates gathered in Madrid in December for the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The conference yielded few tangible outcomes. On the contrary, it highlighted the gap between the action needed to combat climate change and the inability of the international community to take it.