Australia’s leaders face growing pressure to address climate change, as scientists blame the country’s increasingly hot and dry conditions for the disastrous blazes. That would mean reckoning with Australia’s dependence on providing China and other countries with coal.
The fires have prompted a national discussion about climate change and the country’s economy.
The Australian mining and energy industries have long benefited from China’s spectacular growth. China accounts for almost two-fifths of Australia’s exports. A vast fleet of vessels carries coal from northeastern Australia and iron ore and liquefied natural gas from northwestern Australia to Chinese ports.
Still, the wildfires are only one factor forcing many Australians to question how long this economic formula will last.
Niel Badenhorst, a cafe owner, said that since the blazes broke out after Christmas, sales were down a quarter.