A trade union leader has warned of “utter catastrophe” for the UK if world leaders don’t strike a climate deal at COP26.

Matt Wrack of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) predicted a rise in wildfires and floods unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut.

He said everyone needed to “wake up” and called on the Scottish fire service to be properly resourced to combat the threat.

Parts of the world have been devastated by floods, droughts and wildfires brought about by the over-heating planet.

President Biden will be at the Glasgow showpiece as part of a bid to secure an international agreement on the crisis.

Firefighters are often first responders to extreme weather events and Wrack said action was long overdue.

Speaking to the Daily Record, the FBU general secretary said: “We’ve been discussing climate change in the union for a number of years.

“I think it’s obvious from firefighters’ lived experience, probably the past 15 to 20 years, that wildfires and floods in particular have undoubtedly increased in scale and frequency.”

He said: “We’ve seen across the UK thousand year old forests that are wrecked by wildfires. It’s not really sunk into people’s consciousness properly, the scale of what we’re facing.

“If we don’t start to tackle the climate catastrophe, then I think it’s going to be even worse.”

Wrack agreed that people in the UK tended to believe wildfires were something affecting other parts of the world:

“Because we don’t have the huge spread that you get in California, Arizona, and so on, people think it’s less of a problem here, but it clearly is a huge problem.”

Firefighters are known for dealing with house blazes, but increasingly the call outs stem from the damage wreaked by climate change:

“We normally deal with incidents where you turn up, and it’s a house or a factory.

“When you deal with a flood incident on a large scale you’re dealing with hundreds and possibly thousands of people having to get out of their houses.

He added: “On wildfires...they take days to tackle, and people are often away from their homes for days at a time dealing with them.”

Wrack laid out the seriousness of a bold deal not being agreed in Glasgow:

“The price of failure is utter catastrophe unfolding over the coming years and decades. I think it will adversely affect how we live, our economy, our working lives. It is a disaster.

“If parts of the world become uninhabitable that’s going to create huge challenges about where people live.

“We can’t afford to fail. This is about the future of humanity and the world, and we all need to wake up to the scale of that.”

He said of the prospect of climate refugees fleeing other parts of the world:

“There’s no escaping this - we can’t just put bigger and bigger walls around Scotland or the British Isles.”

Wrack, in post since 2005, said the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service had cut jobs since it came into being.

“The Scottish Government needs to invest,” he said.

However, he also sees the climate crisis as a chance to tackle injustice:

“Workers need to be a central part of the discussion on transitioning to a new economy.

“It’s an opportunity to also build a fairer world out of this. It doesn’t have to be a cataclysmic disaster.”

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