2019 has not been a good year for the natural environment either in Australia or elsewhere. Here climate change has delivered a worsening drought and an escalating megafire disaster - both of which have caused devastating damage to the natural world as well as to the human world.
Will 2020 be any better for the natural world? It’s not looking at all promising at the moment.
Although I find it difficult to be optimistic about any improvement, I believe that our governments – and the politicians who serve in them – have been given a strong wake-up call that could lead to some positive action.
Below are some of the changes I hope to see in the coming year.
We need a commitment by all political parties to radically reduce carbon emissions as well as a bipartisan plan to phase out fossil fuel use. Obviously we also need to plan a just transition for those communities which currently rely on fossil fuel industries.
Furthermore, as global citizens, we need to accept that coal should be left in the ground and acknowledge that opening new coal mines and expanding existing mines is not in either our interest or the global interest.
The tax breaks given to fossil fuel companies should be abolished and fossil fuel company donations to political parties should be banned. The Australian community needs its politicians to focus on the national interest, not the interests of polluting fossil fuel companies and their shareholders.
We need a serious effort to halt the biodiversity crisis that Australia is currently facing. Much attention has recently been given to koalas, an iconic species, but they are a symbol for the hundreds of other species of flora and fauna that are also under threat of extinction.
The NSW Government needs to take seriously this threat and give the natural environment a priority it has so far failed abysmally to do. Laws relating to land-clearing and forestry operations need to be drastically changed.
Will any of this happen? It could if enough concerned community members force politicians to re-think their priorities.
- Leonie Blain
This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on January 6, 2020.