SYDNEY, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- With Sydney's famous blue skies still shrouded in hazardous smoke from ongoing bushfires, some residents are calling for greater action on climate change, which they believe has exacerbated the disaster.
Thousands of people turned out in Sydney on Wednesday evening, urging the government to acknowledge the role that climate change has played in creating the bushfire emergency and to take action.
Many were wearing smoke-protection masks and bearing signs, including "as fires rage, so do we," and "they are burning, we are choking, you do nothing".
Organizer and Greens Party New South Wales State Member of Parliament David Shoebridge told the crowd at the rally that Australian leaders should be doing more.
"We are gathered here today while our forests are on fire we are in a global city that has been shrouded in toxic smoke for weeks and weeks on end," Shoebridge said.
Throughout the continuing bushfire emergency, which has lasted over a month and seen more than two and a half million acres burned, the extent to which climate change should be blamed has been a matter of impassioned debate.
Some leaders were criticized for refusing to engage with the debate, citing the current fire crisis as a more pressing issue.
When asked about the bushfires and climate change, Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted that sufficient efforts are being made to reduce Australia's impact on the environment, while also maintaining a strong economy.
"Our policy is sensible when it comes to addressing and taking action on climate change. Our actions on climate change are getting the results they're intended to get," Morrison told reporters.
However as the Harbor city's blue summer sky is replaced by a relentless bleak smog, some Sydneysiders said the effects of climate change are now impossible to ignore.
NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean, who is from the same political party as the prime minister, told a summit in Sydney that "no one can deny" the link between bushfires and climate change.
"These bushfires have been caused by extreme weather events -- high temperatures, the worst drought in living memory -- the exact type of events scientists have been warning us for decades would have been caused by climate change," Kean said.
"Hotter days, less rain, more drought, worse air quality. That is what the scientists have told us climate change looks like."