It’s been two years since Black Summer.

Two years since everyday Australians emerged from the devastation and horror of the fires to come together and find common ground.

Two years since we had hope these fires would be a catalyst for real change. We were in shock but resilient and we knew the solutions were there. That, together, we could achieve meaningful action on climate change.

A person wearing a mustard-colour firefighting shirt standing in front of burned trees.

A man with white hair and a light blue shirt standing with a green, flooded farm in the background.

A person wearing jeans, a blue and pink top and a brown hat standing in a grassy field.

Nessie, Rob and Michelle have been calling for climate action for two years.

What have we been waiting for?

It’s easy to lose hope when nothing much changes at the top. When emissions reduction targets are too little, too late and when election commitments fall far short of what is needed.

But what if we could take things into our own hands?

What if we all came together and raised our voices as one. As an unavoidable demand for action that actually works?

In 2022, we will take bold steps

Wytaliba RFS Volunteer Nessie Leishman is one of many Australians who was moved to speak louder on climate change than she ever imagined.

Drawing on the support of her community and the nature of human connection, she saw the 2019/2020 bushfire crisis as an important moment for us all to speak out — and keep the pressure up, always.

A person wearing a mustard-coloured firefighters' shirt with hands on their hips, looking at the camera. Burnt trees are in the background.

“You can’t ignore the effect climate change is having on the whole of Australia. To see what I saw was just insane. There was fire everywhere. The wind was on fire! It was so intense,” says Nessie.

“It makes me pretty angry so much inaction is happening around climate change. But the resilience in our community has been so incredibly strong.

“Everyone comes together in every new challenge we face. Tough times really show how strong we are.”

Five people standing together wearing sooty mustard-coloured firefighter's uniforms. Burnt trees are in the background.

A burnt ute surrounded by burnt trees.

Wytaliba, NSW, was one of the first places hit by the Black Summer fires. More than two years later, the community are still fighting for stronger action on climate change.

We can get to a place where our communities are safe, our climate is healthy and our economy is sustainable.

This strength is what we all have within us when we are determined to see a way through this climate crisis — to a place where our communities are safe, our climate is healthy and our economy is sustainable.

The solutions to get there are many, and they are here now. One that dairy farmer Rob Miller believes in, is creating energy independent communities.

A person with white hair wearing a light blue shirt.

After being slammed by drought, the Black Summer fires and then flood, Rob wants to see regional and rural communities like his having their own renewable resources to help them get through future crises while contributing to net zero this decade.

“The climate breakdown makes farming a really tough operation. What's going to happen ... are we going to be farming? Is there going to be enough food for the future?” he says.

“With the lack of leadership, it is the local community that's having to step up and take action.

"We're ordinary Australians. We are coming together. We are recognising that we have to do something. We have to act, otherwise our communities are going to be broken.”

A man with white hair, a light blue shirt and black pants standing in front of a flooded field on a farm.

Rob Miller's dairy farm on the South Coast of NSW has seen increasing drought, fire and flood. Rob wants to see a sustainable shift in how communities access energy.

“We’re ordinary Australians. We are coming together. We have to act, otherwise our communities are going to be broken.”

Being witness to the Black Summer fires rip through her community really impacted GP Michelle Hamrosi too.

And these days, she sees climate action as the greatest opportunity for our country in terms of health, wellbeing and economic prosperity.

A close-up photo of a person wearing a blue and pink shirt and grey broad-brimmed hat.

“Following the bushfires, there was this sense of community support and connection — the desire for a better world post bushfires and COVID is palpable,” says Michelle.

“We have everything we need to nurse our climate back to health. A healthy economic recovery would mean a quick transition away from polluting fossil fuels, both coal and gas, which fuel climate change.

“It would fund renewable energy projects, new public transport routes and walking and cycling paths, all which would generate thousands of jobs, including in regional and rural areas like mine.

“I believe meaningful, ambitious climate action is possible. Together we are more powerful and we can create a tidal wave of change that is unstoppable.”

Two young children standing on a beach of big smooth rocks.

A person wearing a blue and pink top and grey hat.

Doctor Michelle Hamrosi is a local leader on climate action. With young children and deep connection to nature, she has a lot worth fighting for and believes we have everything we need to solve this crisis.

Just as communities pulled together to get through the aftermath of the fires that bleak, smoke-filled summer, all of Australia can pull together to realise much-needed meaningful climate action.

Many of those who lost their homes and businesses, or grieved the destruction of forests and wildlife are doing just that.

And we can join them.

It’s been two years of inaction. Let’s not make it three.

Let's get behind solutions for a safe and healthy climate.

Raise your voice by signing the petition to end coal and gas in Australia, then email your Member of Parliament (MP) asking them to stop spending money on fossil fuel projects and fund climate solutions intead.

Marian Reid

Senior Content Producer at Australian Conservation Foundation