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Acting together on climate change today

Senator Waters with climate guardian angels
Senator Waters with climate guardian angels

While Australia’s conservative, anti-science Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, fought to keep climate change off the agenda at the G20, world leaders and the community made sure it was a focus.

According to our climate denialist Prime Minister, climate change is apparently not an economic issue. This is of course despite the facts that climate change will have a major impact on food security and human health and will risk entire nations through sea level rise. Many of the world’s major economies recognise that we are living in a climate emergency. While G20 leaders agreed on a 2 per cent economic growth target (without considering equitable distribution or the finite limits of the planet), at least some are starting to take some action to decouple economic growth from the use of fossil fuels and the use of non-renewable resources so that we can have a liveable planet.

Just days before the G20 meeting, China and the United States announced their climate agreement. Significantly, the deal commits China to ensuring their emissions will peak by 2030 and commits the United States to a 26 to 28 per cent reduction by 2025 on 2005 levels. With the deal being announced just days before the G20, it could not have been clearer that our Prime Minister, who has scrapped the effective emissions trading scheme Australia had in place, was a global humiliation. The point was driven home in his refusal to contribute to the Green Climate Fund, despite the US pledging $3 billion during the G20 and many other countries contributing. Abbott’s reasoning – Australia is already “doing enough”, including audaciously citing the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation in that calculation despite his Government’s bill to abolish the CEFC being before the federal Parliament.

It wasn’t surprising that international coverage of the G20 referred to Tony Abbott as the 'the great blunder from down under’.  While the Prime Minister’s climate denalism is all too clear, many Australians understand the urgency of acting on climate change. They are installing solar in record numbers despite cuts to subsidies and reductions in tariffs, and they took to the streets during G20 despite an ironic heatwave which gripped Brisbane all weekend. I was thrilled to address the community rally braving the heat and spoke on climate and social equity while being flanked by the Climate Guardian Angels (pictured). These and other community rallies managed to take place in Brisbane despite our Prime Minister and his moral clone Premier Campbell Newman teaming up to inflict draconian ‘safety’ laws on Brisbanites, which restricted movement, massively increased police powers and undermined civil liberties. These unreasonable and unnecessary laws were a blatant attempt to silence free speech and were severely inconvenient for Brisbane residents in the ‘lock down’ zone.

Despite the restrictions, the community managed to get their message out loud and clear both in Australia and internationally that despite our Prime Minister’s views, our grandchildren’s futures depend on us acting together on climate change today. Not even this Prime Minister can stop that momentum.

By Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens

Senator Waters with climate guardian angels
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