The Climate Election

No-one much wanted to take the risk of calling the 2022 federal election, the ‘Climate Election’, after the crushing disappointment of 2019. We have every reason to name it the ‘Climate Election’ now!

Our supporters are feeling a great sense of relief and hope, as well as a sense that the heavy weight of fear for our future is actually starting to lift. We’re at this point because of a huge and dedicated climate movement and we can be proud that we as people of faith have been a part of that. 

Pictured: Women's Information Officer, Filzah Rahmat, at the Marion Mosque, SA

It was a Climate Election - let’s shout that from the rooftops! 

It's very clear that there has been a seismic shift for stronger action on the climate. An exceptional number of independents and Greens were elected and the loss of seats by the Coalition was closely connected to the high proportion of voters in any one electorate who were worried about the climate. This is doubly extraordinary given that climate was rarely mentioned by the major parties during the campaign. It is being reported as fact by the BBC and the New York Times. 

Climate rated as the most important issue for the 1.5 million voters who responded to the ABC's Vote Compass, and Australia’s largest ever climate poll, commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation, showed high levels of concern across the country. And this was a climate wave that broke not only on the shores of a few inner-city seats. In many cases Labor MPs got in on large preference flows from the Greens while Labor first preferences were historically low.

This ABC analysis is particularly revealing.

None of this indicates a bias on our part for a particular party or candidate. The facts speak for themselves. 

Yet we need your help in telling that story. There’s a risk that either the incoming Government or the outgoing one will fail to learn the right lessons from this election. Even early on, the conservative side of politics was debating whether they need to adopt better climate policies or double down on their previous position. Fortunately, New South Wales Treasurer (LIB) Matt Kean came out swinging on this

Here are a few things you can do.

  1. Post on social media. Please take a moment to say something on Facebook or Twitter about this election result being a real mandate for strong climate action. Please use the hashtag #TheClimateElection. If your place of worship has put up a banner, then posting a photo of this would be a wonderful addition.  
  1. Keep your banners up a bit longer. If you have a banner up outside your place of worship, please could you keep this up for at least a month after May 21? There is a huge effort going on right now to create ‘surround sound’ for the new Government to show that people right across the board want stronger climate action. 
  1. Write to your Coalition MP, State Senators, former candidates or local Branch. It’s early days but there are a few things we’re sure of. Here’s how you and your faith community can get involved.

Here's why the conservatives remain important

To end the ‘climate wars’ we want both major parties to be on board with strong climate action. That’s been not only ARRCC’s aim, but the aim of most of the broader climate movement.

Perhaps counter-intuitively the first task is to help politicians on the conservative side of politics to learn the lesson of the recent election and to lift their ambition on climate action, even though they are no longer in power. Many of them still just don’t get it. ARRCC is behind the movement's goal to build bipartisan support for serious action. And that won’t happen until the conservative side moves ground. In fact, moving the Coalition will also be key to making the current government more confident to take stronger action too, so this really is essential.

Therefore, it would be really helpful if people of faith across Australia could write to their Liberal or National Party federal representatives, candidates or the local Branch. We’re asking you to do what you did last year when we wrote to the Prime Minister and ask others in your faith community to join you in sending hand-written letters. See here for the resources you need to get yourself and your faith community involved.

We could all have a role to play over the coming three years to engage more with others in our faith communities. This is likely to be slow and quite challenging, as every faith community has a range of views within it. However, it is also likely to be very valuable work. ARRCC also plans to work in a handful of key electorates to build strong support at the congregation level. 

Moving Australia Beyond Coal 

Another important form of effective action is to target corporations currently making profits from fossil fuel industries. Corporations place a high value on their brand’s good reputation, so have often proven to be more open to change than politicians.  

ARRCC has been a mainstay of the #StopAdani movement, which saw over 100 companies withdraw their support from Adani and thermal coal. There is a new bold, diverse, justice-centred campaign brewing to take on the financial pillars of the wider coal industry. ARRCC remains committed to moving Australia beyond coal, and Fahimah will be speaking more on this at the AGM.

Faiths 4 Climate Justice 

We will be integrating our advocacy work in Australia with that of GreenFaith International as we head into COP27. ARRCC will be joining in a Global Multi-religious Faiths 4 Climate Justice Week of Action in the week of 2 - 9 October.  GFI has a simple, clear set of demands: 

  • An immediate end to new fossil fuel projects and deforestation
  • A rapid transition to 100% renewables and a decline in fossil fuels
  • A commitment to a just transition. 

More on that soon!

by Tejopala Rawls