Recently I wrote about the possibility of politicians being given a wake–up call as a result of the climate change induced drought and megafires.
There have been some tiny signs that this may have happened with the federal government.
The most dramatic of these came from the federal Science Minister, Karen Andrews, who said that time should not be wasted discussing if climate change is real. She, unlike some of her more conservative coalition colleagues, obviously accepts the reality of climate change. She claims that unnecessary debate could distract from the urgent need to develop new bushfire adaption and mitigation techniques.
This sounds very promising and is part of what for months former bushfire chiefs such as Greg Mullins have been calling for.
However, while dealing with the bushfire threat in the long term certainly requires much more effective action from both the federal and state governments, such action does not address the crucial issue of Australia’s totally inadequate carbon emissions reduction policy.
The Prime Minister has also shown he has had a small wake-up call. He supported Minister Andrews’ announcements which was an improvement on his earlier positioning – including the ridiculous “now is not the time to talk about climate change”.
However on the broader matter of climate policy, Scott Morrison confirmed that the Government would be sticking with the emissions reduction target it took to the election. But in what he presumably thought would give some comfort to the increasing numbers of the community who are calling for a much more effective emissions reduction policy, he said that the Government’s climate policy would continue to “evolve”.
So what does that mean? Very little. It is nothing more than typical Morrison spin. It means that the government will go on as before pretending that all that is needed are a few cosmetic changes to convince the electorate that it is doing as much as can be done.
Australia does not have enough time left for Morrison’s policy to "evolve". Communities here and around the world urgently need stronger climate action from their governments.
This article is an edited version of the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column published in The Daily Examiner on 20 January 2020.