by Dr Sally Gillespie
In a democracy, voting always matters. But the upcoming Australian Federal election has a special urgency as the window for effective climate action is now very narrow indeed. The climate wake up calls are coming fast and furious, and our children’s lives are very much on the line.
The latest international climate science report released by the IPCC underscores how desperately we need Governments and their leaders to step up to the task of reducing carbon emissions quickly. In his response to this report, Antonio Guterres, The United Nations Secretary General said:
“I have seen many scientific reports in my time, but nothing like this.
Today’s IPCC report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.
With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change.”
His words were underlined, shortly after as Australia’s East Coast was inundated by unprecedented ‘rain bombs’.
The reality of climate disruptions which endanger lives and livelihoods while increasing the cost of living, are becoming increasingly clear. When surveyed, three quarters of the 50 top economists nominated “climate and the environment” as the most important issue for the election.
“This report is our asteroid alarm moment and we have a clear choice: act faster to avoid more damage. Australia stands to gain so much from seizing the opportunities of a clean economy and we are in dire need of federal politicians willing to invest in these advantages.
We need to see action that matches the scale of the challenge right now. But what we’ve got is a total lack of delivery from the Morrison Government, leaving Australia behind the world, without a clear plan to move away from fossil fuels.’
In a recent international report on climate action, Australia received a ‘very low’ rating across the board trailing many developed economies. It was ranked dead last in climate policy, the only country to receive no score in that category.
The Federal Election is a chance to turn Australia’s climate inaction into action. But to ensure this we need to be informed about the climate policies of political parties and their candidates. Here are a few facts to start you off:
- While the international COP26 climate conference calls for a reduction of greenhouse emissions to net zero emissions by 2030, the Morrison Government (LNP party) will only commit to a 26- 28% reduction by 2030. Nor does the LNP have a plan to phase out fossil fuel production or exports.
- The Labour Party (ALP) led by Anthony Albanese pledges a 43% reduction by 2030, targets which are closer to the US and other developed nations. With this target comes an extra 604,000 extra jobs by 2030.
- Although both major parties commit to a net zero reduction by 2050, according to latest reports this is too late to stave off climate catastrophes. What matters most is sharp emissions reductions in the next ten years, not the next thirty.
- The Greens Party led by Adam Bandt are campaigning for a 75 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 and to hit net zero emissions by 2035 aligning with what climate scientists say is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.
- The climate independents or ‘Voices for’ candidates are running in many LNP held seats are also campaigning for a rapid reduction in emissions in line with a science-based approach
- While nether the Greens cadidates nor the climate independents will be able to win Government by themselves, if elected they are likely to be in a position to drive a stronger agenda for climate action in the Federal Parliament. A strong vote for their policies will deepen the momentum for serious climate action and a renewable energy revolution, which according to polls is what most Australian want.
So when you fill out your voting paper this month, think hard about what climate policies you want to safeguard your children’s, and all children’s lives in the years to come.