Words by Shannon McKeogh, 29 VIC
Scott Morrison has called the election and it is set for May 18th.
And for me, a 29-year-old with crippling eco-anxiety, it gives me hope.
Hope not just for a delicious democracy sausage, but for change. Because this election is being dubbed ‘the climate election.’ And finally, the future of our world is being addressed.
In Bill Shorten’s budget reply last week he addressed something missing from the Coalition’s budget. Or in any of its policies:
“Climate change is real.”
Four simple words that have, unfortunately, been for too long seen as the leftist agenda – as a conspiracy theory that greenies are trying to ruin Australia’s economic future and have no place in a budget.
97% of scientists agree that climate change is real. Nay-sayers of the earth’s warming are either Andrew Bolt or that strange guy yelling out obscenities on the tram. Even ex-coal bosses want politicians to wake up to the threat climate change. People are fed up with the Government’s continued investment in coal, despite research showing that this fossil fuel is the leading causes of climate change.
The people power behind these shifts in influence are huge.
On March 16, 1.3 million people from across 100 countries walked out to their streets to protest climate change inaction as part of the Climate School Strike.
In Australia, we saw hundreds of thousands of placarding school students having a say about their future.
Regardless of party, politicians are now being called out to whether they have effective climate change policy. What are their thoughts on renewable energy? Do they support Adani – the new coal mine in Queensland which could endanger birdlife, displace native title rights to first nations, contaminate and destroy water supply? Will these politicians cross their party lines and speak out for what they morally know is right?
It’s time for change and I feel hopeful.
Your vote and your voice can help Australia introduce effective climate change action. You can be an activist and you don’t need to wear tie-dye, or homemade sandals. For too long the Government has weaseled out of addressing climate change in favour of profit. As a result, it has been the individuals who have felt the guilt of being alive.
In response to Australia’s climate policy inaction, we have focused on our individual efforts on being the best we can possibly be. We recycle, compost, limit our single use plastic, jump on our push-bikes, weep in the shower to save water.
I’m not saying that these things aren’t important but we need to continue pushing for better climate policy and focus on our biggest pollutants – which in Australia is coal and other fossil fuels. These smaller things are distractions. We must put our energy into ensuring our government represent us: the people, rather than corporations.
And our current government does not represent the people. Research from the Australian Conservation Foundation found that 65% of Australians oppose the Adani coal mine and 73% support a policy to halt the expansion of coal mining and fast track solar power and storage to reduce the threat of climate change.
New research shows that we can stop global warming below the 1.5 degrees limit if we act now by not committing to any new fossil fuels and instead investing in renewables.
Professor Dave Reay, of the University of Edinburgh, who was part of the research team, said in The Guardian:
“Whether it’s drilling a new gas well, keeping an old coal power station open, or even buying a diesel car, the choices we make today will largely determine the climate pathways of tomorrow. The message of this new study is loud and clear: act now or see the last chance for a safer climate future ebb away.”
At a local level, 74-year-old Melbourne granny activist Audrey Cooke inspires me. She has chained herself to gates and publically protests against Adani.
She sent me this message on Twitter:
“We must not, and cannot afford to be depressed or give up hope. Too much is at stake. I’m getting old, but will keep fighting for climate actions and climate justice. I trust you will ‘take the torch and light other torches.’ Together we will prevail.”
So vote for climate action and have hope.
Shannon tweets @shannylm
Illustration by Aileen, you can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenetc