Federer responds to climate change criticism, Williams donates prize money to bushfire relief, & more in News in 5.

– With AAP.

1. Roger Federer responds to climate change criticism from Greta Thunberg.

Tennis great Roger Federer has said he is “happy to be reminded” of his responsibilities in light of criticism he received from climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion came under fire from Thunberg last week when she criticised bank Credit Suisse – who has a sponsorship deal with Federer – for its record of loans to fossil fuel industries.

Federer was asked to “wake up” by Thunberg in a Twitter post, which began the trending Twitter hashtag #RogerWakeUpNow.

The 38-year-old, who is currently preparing for the Australian Open, issued a statement saying he had a “great deal of respect and admiration” for the youth climate movement inspired by Thunberg.

“I take the impacts and threat of climate change very seriously, particularly as my family and I arrive in Australia amidst devastation from the bushfires,” Federer said.

roger federer
"I take the impacts and threat of climate change very seriously," said Federer. Image: Getty.

"As the father of four young children and a fervent supporter of universal education, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the youth climate movement, and I am grateful to young climate activists for pushing us all to examine our behaviours and act on innovative solutions.

"We owe it to them and ourselves to listen. I appreciate reminders of my responsibility as a private individual, as an athlete and as an entrepreneur, and I'm committed to using this privileged position to dialogue on important issues with my sponsors."

The world no. 3 will join other top players including Serena Williams at charity event Rally for Relief in Melbourne next week, raising funds for fire-ravaged communities. The devastating bushfires have killed at least 28 people, destroyed hundreds of homes and decimated wildlife.


Credit Suisse has also responded to the criticism, saying it is committed to leading the way in supporting its clients in the transition to low- carbon and climate- resilient business models and recently announced in the context of its global climate strategy that it will no longer invest in new coal-fired power plants.

2. Serena Williams donates Auckland Classic prize money to Australian bushfire relief.

Serena Williams has her first WTA title as a mother, overpowering Jessica Pegula in the Auckland Classic final with a performance showing her readiness to contend again at the Australian Open.

Williams responded to early pressure before blowing away her compatriot 6-3 6-4 in New Zealand, winning in one hour and 35 minutes.

The 38-year-old was broken in the first game of the match and was a frustrated figure until she found her feet against the plucky world No.82, who reached the final with the semi-final scalp of Caroline Wozniacki.

Showing her trademark fortitude, Williams bludgeoned her way to the first set in 49 minutes, rattling off the final five games of the set with a succession of winners and fist pumps.

Williams took an early break in the second set, with the 25-year-old Pegula clinging to tight holds of serve that kept her alive.

Pegula dug deep to save three championship points before Williams duly served out for the tournament, throwing her hands in the air before almost collapsing onto the court.

"I've been waiting two years for this moment," Williams said, who returned to the tour in March 2018 after giving birth to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

"It feels good. It's been a long time. You can see the relief on my face."

Williams' success means she has won a title in four different decades, and for the first time, her two-year-old was in the audience to watch her lift a trophy.

Draped in a korowai for winning the tournament and holding her daughter in one arm and the trophy in another, Williams beamed.

"I'm a little biased but she's so cute," Williams said.

Williams also announced she will donate her US$43,000 (A$62,300) winner's cheque towards Australian bushfires relief.

While the 73rd title of Williams' career is unlikely to feature in any career highlights, it is undoubtedly significant.

In defeating Pegula, Williams put to bed a five-final losing streak since her last title, the 2017 Australian Open.


That run includes four defeats in grand slam finals - twice at Wimbledon and the US Open.

The New Zealand win also means, for the first time, the 23-time major winner will arrive at Melbourne Park with a title already in the bag for the year.

Given her hardcourt form and record at Melbourne Park, where she is a seven-time champion, Williams might never get a better opportunity to win a coveted 24th grand slam than this month.

Another major for the legendary American would see her match the record held by Australian great Margaret Court.

Williams' successful week in Auckland also included a 43-minute beatdown of world No.25 Amanda Anisimova in the semi-finals, and defeats of top-100 players Laura Siegemund, Christina McHale and Camila Giorgi.

Only McHale managed to take a set off Williams, who also reached the final of the doubles event with Wozniacki - which the pair lost 6-4 6-4 to American duo Taylor Townsend and Asia Muhammad.

3. Scott Morrison accepts climate change, says Australia's emissions targets must "evolve".

Scott Morrison says he accepts climate change is driving longer, hotter and drier summer seasons. Image: Getty.

Scott Morrison says he accepts climate change is driving longer, hotter and drier summer seasons and the government's emissions targets need to "evolve".

The prime minister has faced criticism for lacking ambition to cut Australia's emissions and a number of his coalition partyroom colleagues have downplayed the link between climate change and recent devastating bushfires.


Australia has pledged to cut emissions by 26 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030, under the Paris Agreement.

"It is my intention to meet and beat that target," Mr Morrison told reporters on Sunday.

"We are going to continue to evolve our policy in this area to reduce emissions even further and we are going to do it without a carbon tax, without putting up electricity prices and without shutting down traditional industries," he added in an ABC TV interview.

Asked whether he was open to moving the existing target, he said: "What I'm saying is 'we want to reduce emissions and do the best job we possibly can and get better and better and better at it'".

Mr Morrison acknowledged some within coalition ranks felt climate change had nothing to do with the bushfires. But it was the government's "uncontested" advice and position that climate change was impacting on longer, hotter, drier summer seasons.

Mr Morrison said one of the issues which should be explored by a royal commission into the bushfires, which he will put to cabinet and state premiers in coming weeks, would be the impact of climate change.

On Sunday, Guardian Australia published an article by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull who argued the world must stop burning coal "if we are to avoid the worst consequences of global warming".

Mr Turnbull also urged his successor to reinstate the national energy guarantee policy and lift targets to cut emissions.

Mr Morrison stressed the government would "meet and beat" its emissions target and had implemented the "reliability" part of the NEG policy.

Australia Institute executive director Ben Oquist said it was a "good move" to include climate in the terms of reference for a royal commission.

"But Australia will have to do more to tackle coal and gas to have a credible climate policy on the international stage," he said.

"The coal and gas industry should begin to help pay the mounting costs of climate impacts, recovery and adaptation through the introduction of a climate disaster levy."

Mr Morrison has rejected the idea of a levy, arguing it would hurt the broader economy.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the government did not have a climate policy to tweak, given its commitment to use Kyoto credits to achieve the emissions cut target.

"At the moment they have ... accounting tricks, rather than actually reducing emissions," Mr Albanese told reporters in Hobart.


"Good policy on climate change will create jobs, will lower emissions, and lower energy prices."

4. Mental health a priority in fire recovery, with the government pledging $76 million to mental health support.

australian bushfires arson
Image: Getty.

If past bushfires are anything to go by, the mental health impact of the current emergency could be felt for up to five years.

That's the view of National Mental Health Commission chief Christine Morgan who on Sunday welcomed the federal government's announcement of $76 million for mental health support.

"This is a particularly distressing time for everyone across the country," she said.

"We know that the impacts of natural disasters extend beyond the end of emergency, with mental health impacts of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires being felt up to five years post-disaster for some people.

"Because of this, it is important that the mental health and wellbeing of Australians is supported immediately, as well as providing ongoing long-term interventions."

She said the three main concerns were anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder for those on the bushfire frontline.

People impacted by the bushfires would require three types of support, which would be funded under the plan, she said.

Psychological "first aid" would help people deal with their immediate need for security and safety, to have strategies to cope, and to enable them to start to regain a sense of control.

Secondly, psychological support services would be available on through Medicare.


And thirdly communities would be supported to run activities to help mental health and healing post-bushfires.

Ms Morgan said the bushfires were having a ripple effect across communities and the nation.

"In remarkably distressing times like this, we should expect to feel different," Ms Morgan said.

"If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or sad please reach out for support. It is really important to talk and connect with others."

If this has raised any issues for you, please seek professional help and contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

5. George Pell moved to high security facility after drone incident.

George Pell News
Image: AAP.

Disgraced Cardinal George Pell has reportedly been moved from his central Melbourne prison to a high security facility in regional Victoria after a drone was flown over the jail.

"Corrections Victoria can confirm an incident involving a drone flying over the Melbourne Assessment Prison on Thursday," a Department of Justice spokeswoman told AAP on Sunday.

The drone was reportedly flying near a visitors' garden at the prison, located in Melbourne's CBD.

Pell has been held at the prison for almost a year, after his 2018 conviction for sexually assaulting two teenage choirboys at Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral in the mid-1990s.

The high profile prisoner, whose legal case garnered global attention, had been given a job weeding and watering a garden inside the prison.


It has been speculated that the drone may have been used to try and get pictures of Pell, which could be worth a significant sum.

He has reportedly been moved from MAP to the maximum security Barwon Prison near Geelong since the incident, which has been referred to Victoria Police.

It is illegal to fly a drone within 120 metres of a prison or youth justice facility, and doing so can result in up to two years jail time.

6. Lack of food a major concern for native animals amid bushfires.

A lack of food and habitats for native animals is concerning wildlife authorities across Australia's bushfire-ravaged southeast.

In New South Wales, thousands of kilograms of carrots and sweet potatoes are being dropped by planes in fire-affected areas to help wallabies.

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said initial fire assessments indicate the habitats of several important brush-tailed wallaby populations were burnt in the recent bushfires.

"The provision of supplementary food is one of the key strategies we are deploying to promote the survival and recovery of endangered species," he said.

In bushfire-ravaged parts of Victoria, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning units are treating bushfire-stricken animals.

RSPCA Victoria has deployed a mobile animal care unit to Bairnsdale to care for injured wildlife, including animals evacuated from the stranded town of Mallacoota.


Volunteer organisation Wildlife Victoria has called for people to donate to sanctuaries and wildlife carers across the state, and urged residents living near bushfire zones to help native animals survive.

"If you're a little further from the bushfire zone, you can help by putting food out for birds," Wildlife Victoria said on its website.

"But it's vital that you do your research first on what native birds should be eating or you could be doing more harm than good (hint: never bread)."

Meanwhile, a burnt animal sanctuary has been converted into a wildlife refuge that survived the blazes on South Australia's Kangaroo Island.

RSPCA wildlife rescuers established a treatment centre at the island's Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary - one of the few buildings left standing in the area.

"We set up a table, a drip and everything we needed to triage and sedate animals, and take a look at their wounds," RSPCA South Australia veterinarian Dr Gayle Kothari said.

"A lot of them had burns to all four feet, so we provided pain relief and bandaged them."

Wildlife carers inundated with native animals, due to both bushfires and the drought, say they are struggling to find places to return them to the wild.

Up to 80 animals are being rescued every day in Queensland, with three times the number of koalas needing help this fire season, according to the RSPCA.

RSPCA Queensland CEO Darren Maier said it's becoming difficult to find locations to release those animals that can be nursed back to health.

"Because of the destruction of habitat there's nowhere the release them," Mr Maier said.

Emaciated baby animals are also being orphaned because of a lack of nutrients in foliage, says Queensland wildlife carer Madonna O'Brien.

"We're seeing a lot of animals in stress because there's nothing in the leaf they're eating," Ms O'Brien.

"Their bubs are being orphaned because the mums are flat out trying to feed themselves," she said, adding that rescue groups need more volunteers.

The Queensland government has announced $250,000 in grants for wildlife carers in the state, with Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch calling on the federal government to contribute more to the effort.

Ms Enoch said individual carers could apply for up to $2000 in funding to cover the costs of medical supplies and fuel. Funds will also be distributed across Queensland wildlife hospitals.