Thursday 30 May 2019


For environmentalists across Australia, particularly those who campaigned for climate change action, saying the election result was a disappointment would be a massive understatement. 

That disappointment is all the more poignant because while a vast majority of Australians rated climate change as their greatest concern, it seems that most are more interested in immediate threats to their personal well-being.

While I was handing out how to vote leaflets, one lady informed me she firmly believed climate change predictions were nonsense, and the changes that are occurring were simply a 20 year weather cycle. That is the level of denial we are facing, because our feuding political class refuses to be up-front with the Australian people, and acknowledge the threats facing the planet, and what needs to be done to limit their impact on our children and grandchildren.

In the lead up to the election, neither major party had any ambitious plan for action on climate change, beyond a few grandiose uncosted statements from Labor. Those were negated by a series of conciliatory promises to the mining industry that appeared to support an expansion of coal mining and 'fracking' for unconventional gas, actions guaranteed to further drive global warming.

Regrettably, mining industry backed scare campaigns, and political stunts like waving lumps of coal around in parliament, have made the whole climate change debate so toxic, that no-one in government is game to act.
The consensus of scientific opinion agrees there is now no way to save our iconic Great Barrier Reef, and the immediate extinction of tens of thousands of the earth's species is now inevitable. The only hope for the remainder, they say, is immediate and drastic action, something now put on hold, in Australia at least, for another 3 years.

Only this week, research results by the respected Pottsdam Institute were released showing that polar melting of ice caps is accelerating at a much faster rate than expected, something that cannot be reversed for thousands of years. 

These are just some of the challenges the new government faces. For our grand-children's sake, let us hope they are up to that challenge.

            - John Edwards

This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on May 27, 2019

Wednesday 8 May 2019


Australia faces some serious environmental problems, many having been highlighted in the current election campaign.  But the environmental problem receiving the most attention is climate change.

This is not surprising as it has become increasingly obvious to a growing number in the community that climate change is fuelling extreme weather events such as prolonged drought and heatwaves as well as reef bleaching, bushfires and many other dramatic changes to natural systems. 

More electors are demanding effective action to curb the emissions causing these changes.  Of particular significance are the growing calls for action from the young – those who will be forced to deal with catastrophic impacts if effective action is not taken urgently.

So what is on offer from the major parties in the election campaign?

The Coalition parties are promising more of the same – a continuation of the direct action policy in which taxpayers pay polluters to curb their emissions.  There are no plans to lift energy from renewable sources above 23% and there is clear support for the continued burning of coal and building of coal power stations instead of any plan to phase out this energy source.

The division on climate policy within the Coalition has made it impossible for it to develop and implement an effective policy. This was clearly shown with the failure of the NEG (National Energy Guarantee) last year and the coup against Prime Minister Turnbull.   Despite this division and the continuing rise in carbon emissions, the current Prime Minister and others in the Coalition have unrealistically claimed that the nation will meet its Paris commitments “in a canter”. 

The Coalition is failing future generations as well as ignoring the long term national interest.
The Labor Party wants much greater cuts to emissions – 45% by 2030 - and the move to 50% renewable energy by 2030.  While this is a distinct improvement on the Coalition’s position, there are significant weaknesses in its policy including its support for fracking gas in the NT’s Beetaloo Basin.

A climate emergency has recently been declared in the UK.  What chance is there of that happening in Australia?

            - Leonie Blain

This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on May 6, 2019