July 18, 2014

A Dark Day for Australia is Our Rallying Call

After a torturous few weeks of furious debate in the senate (including a rather bizarre Al Gore cameo), Australia’s coalition government has finally been successful in having the carbon price repealed, signalling Australia’s determination to bury its head in the sand and turn its back on the rest of the world’s efforts to reduce climate change. The 17th of July will go down in Australian history as the day when 39 of our Senators turned their back on future generations.

In the short period it was in operation Australia’s carbon reduced emissions from the energy sector by more than 8 percent and put Australia at the forefront in terms of action on climate change. However the successful vilification of the carbon price as a ‘tax’ by Prime Minister Tony Abbott signalled the death knell for Australia’s most effective measure to price carbon pollution.

The repeal of the carbon price, whilst a sad day for Australia’s history books, provides an opportunity for the people of Australia to stand up and take back the power to determine the future of our country. Because today it’s been made clear that we can no longer rely on our politicians to act in the best interests of the planet.  If our political leaders are determined to ignore the greatest threat to humanity, it means that Australia’s citizens must take our own action to combat runaway climate change.

As Donald Trump once said, sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win a war. 

Things that we can do to ensure we can still sleep at night:

1. Use our money to demand change

The global divestment movement is clearly gaining traction and we’ve seen many examples of financial leaders stepping in to fill the gap left by politicians.

Some of the world’s biggest international banks including Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays have all ruled out providing financial support for the expansion of the Abbot Point coal port, a project which will turn our Great Barrier Reef into a coal shipping highway and open up the Pandora’s box that is the Galilee Basin coal reserves. Spiritual organisations are doing the same — just last week the World Council of Churches announced they were removing all their investments in the fossil fuel industry.

As consumers we have the opportunity (and our future generations may imply, the moral obligation) to demand that our money is used responsibly and not invested in industries that could exacerbate climate change.

2. Stop new fossil fuel projects

This year we’ve seen some wonderful examples of how ordinary people can work together to stop or slow Australia’s biggest coal and gas projects. From Bentley to Maules Creek we’ve sent a message to the big fossil fuel companies that their social license to dig and drill at will has expired and that they’d better be prepared for costly fights and PR disasters if they want to start new projects.

However our biggest battle hasn’t even begun – plans are underway to construct nine new mines in the Galilee Basin, which will double Australia’s export of coal and push us to the point of no return.  We must work together to stop these mines from going ahead.

3. Start demanding climate leadership at all levels

If our politicians won’t willingly offer any leadership on climate change we must stand up and demand it.

The People’s Climate March in September will see thousands of people taking to the streets to demand less talk and more action on climate change. It represents the perfect opportunity for Australians to show that they despite what our politicians may think, we are not happy to be the climate pariah of the planet.

We may have lost this battle, but there’s no way we’re going to lose this war.

If you’re in Australia, get involved and help us turn this around.