The Elephant in the Room: Why Australian Politicians Don’t Care about Climate Change
Ever get the feeling the political class don’t really care that much about climate change?
The government’s willingness to sign on for new mines, provide funding for coal seam gas, and back projects that destroy our most famous landmarks is matched only by their disinterest, and at times outright opposition to, renewable energy and climate-friendly business practice.
We’ve only got one shot at dealing with climate change, so why are politicians so vehemently against sustainable solutions? In this article, we look at the reality of climate change in Australia and around the globe, looking at some of the reasons our politicians aren’t interested in telling the truth, and suggest some ways you can play a part in sustainable change.
Global warming is already here
Despite what the politicians might tell us, the effects of global warming are already being felt around the globe. This includes:
- A hotter and more extreme climate (2016 was the hottest in recorded history)
- Higher frequency and impact of droughts
- Desertification of landscape
- Stronger storms and cyclones
- Coastal inundation.
For people across the world it means increased risks of food and water shortages, displacement and damage to shelters, community relocation and loss of jobs, industries and wealth. In recent history, climate change was a factor in the Syrian war, Arab Spring, and the Mediterranean migrant crisis.
It doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture.
And in Australia, where we are already experiencing first-hand impacts of climate change, our politicians seem more interested in squabbling among themselves and with the media than being champions for the change we need. But if climate change is already here, why doesn’t the government care?
The people know, so why don’t the politicians?
Counter-arguments to climate change may remark that the political indifference to our changing ecology is merely a representation of what the general population believes. After all, politicians are just mouthpieces for their constituents, right?
A global survey across eight countries (including Australia) by the Global Challenges Foundation found that 84% of respondents consider climate change a ‘global catastrophic risk’, while over 70% are so disillusioned with the carping of their own governments that they would support a supranational organisational body that could make climate-related decisions and enforce them.
Simply put, Australian government officials aren’t blind to climate change because that’s what the people want. The reasons are far more sinister.
Reason #1 – Ideological issues
Ideology plays a big part in how political parties and governments function. We’ve already seen how ideological issues along the lines of same sex marriage can divide a political party. And when politicians rise through the ranks of a party by ‘towing the party line’, it’s little wonder that fantasy comes before fact.
But when both major Australian political parties support dirty energy, it demonstrates that it’s really up to the Australian people to push back against the ideology of political posturing. With both Liberal and Labour supporting the Adani coal mine, despite the clear danger it presents to the environment and dubious benefits to the country, you really have to question both the ideologies of the political class and how we can make a difference.
Reason #2 – Big fossil interests
Fossil fuels represent some of the biggest pollutants in the world, yet in Australia they persist despite the overwhelming evidence of their harm on our environment. Even as new, cleaner technologies lay the path for a brighter future, big coal and other fossil fuel interests continue their lobbying of the government.
Despite allegations of bribery, corruption and environmentally destructive behaviour by the Adani company in India, the Queensland Government continues to back the Adani Coal Mine. Further to this, the government is trying to dip into the public purse, making ordinary Aussies pay for Adani’s $900 million coal railway. Future Super has decided to chip in to help keep coal in the ground – for every person who joins and switches to Future Super this month, we’ll donate $50 to the #StopAdani* campaign.
Although coal mining is in terminal decline around the world, the fossil fuel industry in Australia is relentless. The revolving door between political staffers and fossil fuel lobbyists shows how uncertain the industry is as a whole. The Conversation has an exhaustive list of the movers and shakers that seem to slide between government staff and the fossil fuel lobby groups without oversight. And while it might be technically legal, it’s surely unethical.
Switch in October to help put a stop to mining in the Galilee Basin.
Reason #3 – Fear mongering works
Certain sections of the political class in particular take a certain delight in spreading fear among Australians over renewable energy. In July, Liberal MP Craig Kelly said people would die because renewables were raising electricity prices, ignoring the twofold reality that:
- Energy prices are already high thanks to monopolised markets and exported energy
- Without renewables we’re all at risk.
Emboldened by media shock jocks with opaque sponsorship agreements, this kind of fear mongering seems to target the most vulnerable in our society, using the threat of higher prices to distract from the realities of climate change and the legacy industries that led us there.
But what MPs like Kelly show us is that baseless sensationalism works, in some twisted way, to grab people’s attention. It’s hard to swallow the idea that Kelly actually believes what he is saying. Perhaps it’s just grandstanding for attention. Either way, it’s up to us to stop rewarding politicians like Kelly and start rewarding those that stand up for renewable energy and sustainable business.
Fighting back against the politics of climate change
Fortunately, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt about the Australian political class, it’s that their ideology is strongly tied to economic growth. As a member of the Australian public, you can fight back. Both with how you vote in elections, and how you invest your money. By investing in cleaner energy solutions, you’re taking part in the growing movement to fund sustainable industries and fight back against the climate deniers.
Future Super takes our ethical investment seriously. Our screening process ensures your superannuation is invested ethically with businesses that respect the environment and work to combat climate change. Learn more about our ethical screening process and discover how your investments can make a difference to our future, today.
If you’re tired of repetitive political discourse dampening climate action, then switch to Future Super during October and help us #StopAdani*.