The Federal Government and Climate Action
A survey conducted by the Australia Institute as part of its Climate of the Nation Report 2020 showed that over 80% of Australians are concerned about the impacts of climate change. These impacts – including drought, bushfires, and extreme weather events – will become more frequent and more severe as carbon emissions continue to rise.
The lack of effective Federal Government action to reduce greenhouse emissions is of mounting concern. Since the Coalition parties were elected in 2013, emissions have fallen by a mere 2.2% which is in contrast to the 15% achieved under Labor between 2007 and 2013.
This government climate inaction means today’s young people and future generations will bear the brunt of the growing climate crisis as well as the economic consequences of dealing with it. Unsurprisingly young people here and elsewhere around the world are calling on their governments to do more to ensure that emissions are urgently reduced and that the transition to clean energy is expedited.
Fortunately, state governments and many in the business community have rejected the climate laggard stance of the Federal Government. All the states and territories – irrespective of the political parties in government – have committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and are actively working towards achieving this goal. Business leaders are also well aware of the need to tailor their operations and make the changes necessary to prosper in a carbon-constrained world.
Many other national governments have committed to net zero emissions by 2050 (or 2060 in the case of China). Some of these are our major trading partners and their transition away from fossil fuels will seriously affect our economy if we do not accept the inevitable and imminent decline of our fossil fuel sector. As well, we can expect that the election of Joe Biden will put further pressure on Australia to improve its efforts to combat global warming.
These changed circumstances should force our recalcitrant Federal Government to re-assess its lacklustre climate and energy policies and end the puerile political “climate wars” and start taking effective climate action.