Tennis fans call out Australian Government’s climate inaction as bushfire smoke and extreme heat interrupt Australian Open

Melbourne, Australia – Spectators at the Australian Open have displayed banners calling out Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s failure to reduce the carbon pollution that has exacerbated the bushfire crisis and disrupted play at the Open.

Earlier today during a set break in the men’s doubles third-round match that pitted Simone Bolleli and Benoit Paire against Henri Kontinen and Jan-Lennard Struff, Greenpeace Australia Pacific supporters unveiled a banner reading “Climate inaction is an unforced error” along with images of Morrison fumbling with a tennis racket.

“Two out of the last three years now, players and fans at the Australian Open have suffered huge health impacts as a result of climate change-driven heatwaves and bushfire smoke. Without swift action to phase out coal as the number one driver of climate change, extreme weather events will only get worse,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner, May House said.

“Leading scientists and former tennis players have questioned whether the Australian Open can continue in its current format with play increasingly disrupted by extreme heat and bushfire smoke.”

“Greenpeace Australia Pacific is calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to protect iconic Australian institutions like the Open by urgently reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which have been rising for the past four years.”

Melbourne resident Felicity Stewart, who helped display the climate message said she had been breathing in bushfire smoke for months and was worried about what the future would be like if it continued like this every summer.

“Like many Australians, I love being outdoors but the coal-fired bushfire crisis has made it too dangerous to go outside without people experiencing breathing problems –  it’s affecting day-to-day life,” she said.

“Extreme weather caused by climate change is threatening the health and safety of people all over Australia, including athletes at the Open, forced to play tennis in stifling smoke and heat. In order to protect the Open we love, Australia needs to rapidly reduce carbon pollution by replacing our coal-burning power stations with clean energy sources like wind and solar.”

Climate scientist David Karoly, who heads the CSIRO-based Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub, has warned that the Open may need to relocate to a cooler season to protect players and fans.

The professor said there has been a “dramatic” increase in the number of days in Melbourne above 38 degrees in recent decades and “the projection is for a further increase in all the climate models.”

Scientists at Australia’s Monash University have raised the same concerns in their report ‘Love 40 Degrees: Climate change, extreme heat and the Australian Open’. [1]

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash has also raised the alarm about the dangers of climate-driven extreme weather events, like bushfire smoke and heatwaves, impacting play at the Open.


Photo and video:

Images from the Australian Open protest available here
New images from fires in Australia available here



The Last Australian Open website 


Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner, Martin Zavan: +61 424 295 422, [email protected] 

Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), [email protected]

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