Climate change has not featured as a major issue so far in the federal election campaign.
Both major parties have targets for emissions reductions which both claim can be achieved. The Coalition target is a 26-28% reduction relative to 2005 levels by 2030 and Labor’s is a 45% cut over the same time frame.
Despite the politicians’confident claims, the effectiveness of their policies in meeting their targets is debatable.The Climate Change Authority saw a need for much stronger action, recommending 40-60% reductions relative to 2000 levels by 2030.
Political policy is obviously developed with community attitudes in mind. Just how much community support is there for strong action on climate change?
Sydney University of Technology lecturer Deborah Cotton, who conducted a survey of community attitudes to climate policy in 2011, recently conducted another survey to see whether attitudes had changed.
Cotton says results suggest that concern about the climate is more widespread now than it was five years ago. Now 75% of people believe it is an important global issue and 74% believe it was an important issue for Australia.
She says, “As to what we should do about it, we found that 57% of people want Australia to act on climate change irrespective of whether other countries do or not. This is significantly more than in 2011, when 50% of people were in this category.”
Many of those concerned about the need for urgent and much more effective climate action would like to see the profile of this issue raised in what is left of this long and tedious election campaign.
Recent events which have already raised the profile of climate change include the coral bleaching and along the Great Barrier Reef and elsewhere and the recent ferocious east coast low storm.
Effective and urgent climate action is not something we can put off. It is vital for future generations of humans and other species. It is also vital for our economic future that we implement strong measures now. Not doing so would lay an enormous economic as well as environmental burden on our children and grandchildren.
- Leonie Blain