Climate Battle Lost or Not?
There’s quite a bit of soul searching about whether the recent federal election result reflected a lost climate election that caused significant damage to the global heating campaign; or is just a bump in the road. Climate change skeptics, cynics, anti-environment ideologues and opportunists are as one columnist said 'wagging their fingers' and telling us to get on with more coal fueled power stations; others are championing nuclear power.
Writing for the ABC, Michael Slezak found a diversity of views in the environment movement about what went wrong or not and how this might impact future tactics. Certainly the issue of global heating could not go unmentioned in the election and the ALP gave prominent profile to its policies. Adani became somewhat of a totem and peak groups issued report cards on party policies.
There was a clear polarisation of views and voting patterns when it came to the importance of the issue and its generational implications. South of north Qld traditional Liberal seats swung strongly on the issue – a worrying trend for the Libs who could previously depend on rusted-on voters. Mining areas such as the Hunter and around Qld’s mining province saw jobs as crucial with fears inflated as the ALP tried to tread a delicate path. No doubt the Adani convoy into the north gave useful capital to opponents of robust policies in the hyper election atmosphere (despite the small amount of permanent jobs – now 100 – to be created by Adani). Elsewhere in south Qld and in NSW, potent issues revolved around threats to retirement incomes and house values.
The ALP has today clarified its mining policy – that if a mining venture does not need government funds and passes strict environmental tests – then it should go ahead. Whether that position would have helped them during the election is a mute point. And as we are seeing from the Qld Labor government, they are moving fast to smooth the way for Adani (whether or not the environmental approvals are strict) in order to neutralise the issue. An important test in NSW will be how the recent Land and Environment Court decision to stop a mine because of its climate change impacts is respected by government. Will they move to outlaw such considerations? I have no doubt the mining lobby are pushing for such an outcome.
Just as the powerful mining industry will advocate its vested interest – there are bigger and more businesses wanting effective and certain climate change policies. The challenge of global heating is not going to disappear just because we have had a federal election. Community support for action is at an all time high. The ALP and Liberals need to have this top of mind as they recalibrate their policies.
So let’s keep campaigning with our community and business allies - strongly and strategically. There’s no time to waste.