The Australian Election was a Climate Disaster: What Now?
Just over a week ago, Australians did the democratic thing and went to the vote. In short, the outcome was a disaster for the hope of Australian government leadership on climate change - it elected a government that is on par with Canada's Harper Government, which has done everything to prevent action on climate change. So we rallied together and hashed out a post election strategy for Australia, and this is what we just emailed to our friends across the country. We thought it worth sharing globally to give a taste of what's to come for Australia.
* We're sorry if our words in an earlier version of this post suggested that the carbon price is not worth defending. We don't think that. 350.org will be focusing on coal expansion and divestment but we strongly support efforts to defend these extremely important policies and we commend the organisations and individuals doing so. Our bad!
I think we all know that the outcome of the election was not a success for tackling climate change, and if we're to be honest, it's probably most adequately described as a climate disaster.
You do have to wonder if Prime Minister Tony Abbott's blood oath to repeal the carbon price counts for anything as there was actually no blood involved. But here at 350.org Australia, we've concluded that the area we need to focus on is their weak spot: coal expansion. We need to win this one, big time.
The Government is fighting a losing battle to expand coal exports
Abbott and the Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman are desperate to rapidly expand Australia's coal exports. But they’re going to have a tough time. The international price of coal is low and is likely to remain low as demand for coal is not growing as fast as the industry predicted it would. China for one is busy putting in new legislation to decommission coal power plants and ramp up alternatives - meaning that the country is on track to reach its peak of demand for coal much earlier than the consensus outlook had predicted. The international price pressure, coupled with the divestment pressure, and the great work community groups around Australia are doing to fight these projects is making financing big coal projects increasingly risky and undesirable. Just last week, Glencore Xtrata shelved its massive Wandoan coal project for these very reasons.
Over the coming year, we'll continue to build momentum and pressure with Divestment campaigning. We'll also issue a direct challenge to the fossil fuel industry - through Summer Heat Australia (more to come soon).
Alongside those two, we're going to be figuring out ways to challenge the ideology of extraction that would see Australia dug up no matter the social or environmental cost. Naomi Klein defines that ideology as 'extractivism':
It’s an approach to the world based on taking and taking without giving back. Taking as if there are no limits to what can be taken – no limits to what a functioning society can take, no limits to what the planet can take. When crisis hits, there is only ever one solution: take some more, faster. On all fronts. So that is their story – the one we’re trapped in. The one they use as a weapon against all of us.
We mustn't just target Abbott and Newman for their extractivist agenda, we must target the small number of powerful people in Australia pushing extractivism. We must name it and shame it, and at the same time push forward strongly with the progressive, science-based path of development that treats the planet and people like they actually matter. That's a big project, but it's time to begin it. We're always keen to hear your ideas - just hit reply to this email, or post them on our Facebook page!
There's a few other parts to our strategy, which we've summarised in this post-election climate organising checklist:
- Rational argument won’t win the day - the Coalition is deeply ideological. It is a power fight.
- Government lobbying won’t work. We have to challenge power with power.
- Divestment is now more important than ever - it’s our most effective strategy to fight the extra power the coal and gas industry has just received with the change in government, because it gets to the financial base of the industry. We don't have to faff about with the Government.
- Things will move fast. We need to get ready to respond. But we mustn’t get caught up with just responding. We need to go on the offensive.
- Support alternative media. Create alternative media. We have to divest ourselves from reading and believing the Murdoch press. Invest our desire for news into media that is fact-based and unbiased.
- Be ready for non-violent direct action