Distinctive campaign battle lines were defined long before Scott Morrison’s belated April 11 announcement that we would be going to the polls on May 18. For months the Coalition had insisted the election was going to be about the economy, security and putting locals first, “to keep our economy strong, to keep Australians safe and to keep Australians together”. On the other side of the political divide, Labor’s ‘A Fair Go for Australia’ messaging was all about health, education and worker’s rights.
However, pressure from the wider Australian electorate and the rise of Independent candidates with strong climate action platforms put climate change firmly onto all campaign agendas, albeit the Liberals’ were dragged to it kicking and screaming and the Nationals’ response was tokenistic, with a few doubtful statistics thrown around late into their 12-page ‘Cleaner Environment’ Policy document.
The 2019 campaign has seen climate Indies stepping up in both houses. Polling suggests some of the climate candidates have a very real chance in hitherto Coalition heartland seats, and all have changed — and are continuing to change — the political dialogue around climate policy.
The last party to register, the Independents for Climate Action Now (ICAN) would not have gotten there in time except for Morrison’s delay in calling the election. Morrison’s timing decision prompted a cynical response from the Herald Sun which reported the “delay means Mr Morison [sic] can use taxpayer funds to travel the country selling his budget message.”
ICAN is a party of allied Independents bound by a commitment to delivering effective, scientific evidence-based policies to address the Climate Emergency.Jim Tait – ICAN founder
ICAN has over 1000 members across Australia and is fielding eight senate candidates including human rights activist, Father Rod Bower (@FrBower), notable for his political billboard displays in front of his church at Gosford on the NSW Central Coast.
Until recently, climate change has been cast as an ideological issue, the province of ‘tree huggers’, ‘greenies’ and environmentalists. However, around the globe dire pragmatism born of sound scientific evidence is taking climate action beyond the ideological. Increasingly, climate change is being recognised as “an existential threat to human society” and a clear prudential risk.
Gradualism is the new denialism
“Steady as it goes is not going to get us there… this idea that yes, yes, we can support a few solar panel programs and batteries for private homes is some sort of concessionary policy.
In Australia we have been playing this sort of relativity game with climate policy. As long as we look better than the opposition we are good to go.Jim Tait
“Atmospheric physics doesn’t care about the value of suspended assets, doesn’t care about the power of industrial unions… you can’t fool atmospheric physics. You’ve actually got to implement policy that changes our emissions spectrum, that changes the carbon intensity of our society and economy.
Until we do that we are still on a trajectory for a disastrous future.Jim Tait
Show us your costings
Election policy announcements are typically accompanied by the catch cry of ‘how much do they cost?’ with the major parties go into battle about the accuracy and affordability of the other’s economic modelling. Bill Shorten’s announcement of his climate change policy was no different and incurred a barrage of such attacks by the Liberal Party, with Energy Minister Angus Taylor reported as saying the Labor Party policy would “wreck the economy”.
But there are real costs of failing to act
Studies by the Climate Council and the Actuaries Institute warn that increasing extreme weather events would see Australian economic growth and real estate values dive and insurance companies reevaluate their risk exposure, rendering property insurance unaffordable for many.
Not addressing climate change is going to have a massive economic impact. The cost of inaction is going to be ultimately more expensive than the cost of inaction.Jim Tait
This is not a future issue, it is happening today…
As a result of “the recent drought, we are already looking at impacts to our GDP and percentage points. Those floods in the north west of Queensland had a two-billion-dollar price tag; the floods in Townsville – hundreds of millions of dollars of impacts.” – Jim Tait
Scientists believe that the recent and unprecedented decline in Bogong Moth populations is a result of climate change and drought in the moth’s breeding areas. For Jim Tait the Bogong Moth is the canary in the coal mine that no one saw coming. The back-to-back bleaching events on the northern Great Barrier Reef is another, and “how big a canary is that?”.
“Ecosystems are a great network of interdependent life. We forget that we are not above nature, we are dependent on it.” – Jim Tait
How many canaries does it take to die in a coalmine?Jim Tait
… and it will cost more the longer we wait
“Some 60,000 Queenslanders are dependent on the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem for their employment… if we lose that system and the associated fisheries, then all the other industries that are dependent on it, we are talking about a major hit to the Queensland economy, a hit to people’s employment.” – Jim Tait
Dark cloud, silver lining
There is one other economic point that gets regularly overlooked and that is the missed opportunity of not being proactive.Jim Tait
“The sooner we bite the bullet and make the commitment and transition [to clean energy] there is a range of economic opportunities.
We can be developing a clean energy export industry. It is already occurring in north west Australia as we speak… there is a a major investment in exportable hydrogen… Asia is hungry for clean energy and we can export hydrogen.”
Australia has the largest hard rock lithium reserve in the world. Instead of being the quarry nation, where we just dig it up and ship it out, we should be processing it here.
“And through mass investment in renewable energy we can use the cheap energy available to reinvigorate our manufacturing sector, we can create jobs.” – Jim Tait
I’ll just leave this here
We need to tackle misinformation and let people know that there is a new economic paradigm, an ecological one, driven by the planet.Fr Rod Bower
In an interview with RN breakfast and reported on by ABC News in October 2018, after announcing his candidacy, Fr Bower said:-
“We see a lot of great politicians, really good people, who vote against their conscience because that’s what the party asks of them. I will look at legislation, take advice across a broad spectrum of advice, and I’ll come to those votes without that the pressure of party politics.”