Election preparations

The nation appears to be gearing up for an early federal election, so I hope you’re preparing to advocate for sound climate policies! This is especially if you’re in a swinging seat, or in a seat with an elected representative who is lobbying against good policies. (See the dirty thirty.) Is that you? Especially then, we have a job to do!

The media is full of reminders of the urgency of the issue, the latest being the major coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef.



Coral bleaching on Fahey Reef, Qld. Picture supplied by Coral Watch, University of Queensland

2015 was warmer than any year on record - again. February itself was globally the most abnormally warm month on record, 1.35C above the mid-20th century average, according to NASA. ARRCC is concerned, above all, that the greatest impacts of the resulting climate disruption are on those who are already suffering from poverty, especially in the developing world.

ARRCC is a member of Climate Action Network Australia, a peak body for all the nation’s environmental organisations and groups. ARRCC, together with CANA, wants all political parties to recognise that their electoral success depends on doing the right thing for our children, for people in countries vulnerable to climate disruption and for communities needing to transition away from coal.

CANA is facilitating collaboration among people from a range of groups in each of ten particular House of Representatives electorates. Five are the electorates of “blockers”: Bass (Tas), Dawson (Qld), Dickson (Qld), Hume (NSW) and New England (NSW). Five are marginal electorates: Bonner (Qld), Brisbane (Qld), Deakin (Vic), Kooyong (Vic), Hindmarsh (SA).

 If you are in any of these ten, your country needs you. Mother Earth needs you! We invite you work with others in your local area by first contacting [email protected].

 Furthermore, some MP’s and Senators are believers in a faith tradition, and here’s where fellow believers have a special role to play. You could talk with them, in writing or in person, about why global warming is important to you as a believer. You could present them with quotes from teachings from their tradition or recent high-level statements by their religious leaders, some of which were released as recently as 2015, before the Paris summit. And you could ask them for their own positions on key policy questions.

 In the lead-up to elections more than ever, our elected representatives and competing candidates are in the business of pleasing their electorate. This is a great time to impress on them why strong climate policy will be critical in deciding your vote. Furthermore, during election campaigns political representatives and other candidates are especially tuned in to local media and religious media of relevance to their geographical area. Oxfam Australia has a great guide to what options are available to citizens in local media.

 One option is to also ask your MP and/or Senator to secure an election commitment from their party. Election commitments can be particularly important in the heated context of an election, because they may attract widespread media coverage and help to put pressure on other parties to make a similar commitment.

What policies?

Basically, we believe that it makes no economic, ethical or ecological sense to continue to our addiction to polluting fossil fuels, and we stand with those who stand to lose the most because of it. In the lead-up to the next election we therefore ask that the following matters be included in the policy platforms of parties, MP’s, Senators and candidates. Note that half of these asks are about decarbonising our economy and half are about justice towards those most disadvantaged by our addiction to fossil fuels:

  • Commit both to public funding and incentives to rapidly escalate the take-up of renewable energy. We recommend a Renewable Energy Target well above 20% by 2020.
  • Declare a moratorium on any new coal, oil or gas mining developments or expansions.
  • Commit to a target of cutting carbon emissions by at least 40 per cent below the levels of 1990 (the Kyoto benchmark) by 2025, and 100 per cent by 2050.
  • Provide sufficient levels of Climate Finance, and provision for Loss and Damage, that developing nations are not unfairly carrying both the burden of development and the burden of an unstable climate.
  • Develop a compassionate and fair approach to those made homeless through climate change.
  • Withdraw subsidies such as the diesel fuel rebate from fossil fuel-intensive industries by 2017. (See this letter, sent in March 2016, to which ARRCC is a signatory.)
  • Create a restructuring plan to ensure no communities are left behind as Australia transitions from a fossil fuel-based economy to one powered by renewable energy. A just transition for mining communities must be central to action on climate change.

For more details, see here for what ARRCC holds as sound climate policy.

Watch this space for more detail on advocacy before the election.

Thea Ormerod

President, ARRCC