If you’re anything like me, the latest IPCC report has hit you for six. In case you missed it – it warns that we’ve only got a decade before the climate crisis hits apocalyptic levels, where 1.5c of warming will forever change the face of the planet.
It’s a bleak read, more so in a pandemic, when we all feel so alone. As someone who’s been fighting for climate action for decades, it stings.
At times like this, you’ve got two options. Succumb to the nihilistic voice that says “it’s too late”, and do nothing. Or you take the clear roadmap the IPCC report lays out, and fight even harder.
Frodo said it best: “I wish it need not have happened in my time.” “So do I,” replied Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
There’s only one real option. The climate crisis is the biggest challenge of our time. If we care about our planet, the people on it, and the future generations that need a place to call home: we’ve gotta fight like hell to stop it.
We need everyone to do everything. We need to stop every tonne of pollution going into the atmosphere we can, to keep us, and those who come after us, safe. We have all the technological solutions we need and there are hundreds of thousands of jobs that need to be created to set us on a pathway to safety. And the political pathway is clear.
2030 targets, and bloody big ones too
Australia doesn’t have a choice about whether we get to net zero emissions or not, only when. The IPCC report makes it clear that what matters most is what we do in the next decade, as 2030 is the deadline for the climate. Delay is the new denial and we can’t wait until 2050.
In Australia, we need to replace all coal, oil and gas with renewables as soon as possible. There’s no point in saying that coal and gas have a role to play for decades to come, because they don’t.
Stop making the problem worse
The atmosphere is full and can’t take any more pollution, but astoundingly Liberal and Labor want to open up *new* gas and coal projects, like the Beetaloo Basin and other gas fields in the Northern Territory, which contain the equivalent of about 70 years worth of Australia’s pollution. Just leave it in the ground, idiots.
Massive wind and solar projects, across the country
We need a mass investment in renewable energy. That means we replace all the coal fired power stations with renewable, asap. (They’re also cheaper. And more reliable. If you hear otherwise, they’re lying or an arsehole or both.)
The last time Greens got into balance of power (where neither Labor nor Liberal had a majority) we made polluters pay for their pollution and got $13b for renewable energy, including with a big renewables bank that has paid out billions of dollars to create renewable energy across the country. The Liberals have tried to get rid of it, but not only did we stop them, Scott Morrison now boasts about its achievements to the rest of the world!*
[*Editor’s note: this is in reference to the government’s recent failed attempt to allow the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to invest in carbon capture and storage, an unproven and expensive ‘solution’ to climate change. However, yesterday Morrison highlighted a $20 million investment in technologies to reduce emissions when responding to the IPCC report, which is money ear-marked for ARENA. You can smell the hypocrisy, no?]
Sell our sunlight to the world
What’s better than 100% renewable energy? 700% renewable energy! We can make much more renewable energy than we need and instead export our sun and wind to the rest of the world.
Australia’s currently the world’s third largest exporter of fossil fuel pollution, but instead of selling the rest of the world our coal and gas, let’s sell them green hydrogen. It comes from using renewable energy to split water, making a clean fuel that can power cars and factories. There are also big projects underway to basically run big extension cords from northern Australia up to Asia, where solar plants and wind farms here send electricity overseas.
Help out mining workers
We need to look after the workers directly affected. We can’t keep lying to coal and gas workers and saying that there is a future in coal and gas, because there’s not. The only reason Liberal and Labor say this is because they have been paid off by the coal and gas corporations in donations and jobs for ex-politicians.
[Editor’s note: causation is hard to prove here, but the fossil-fuel industry has doubled its donations to major parties in four years, giving the Liberals and the ALP $1.9 million in 2018-19. The parties rely on these donations, and in turn, the donors are likely to secure a meeting with a senior minister. On top of that, more than one quarter of federal politicians move to a special interest job post politics, according to the Grattan Institute, where their relationships “can open doors”.]
Coal and gas workers deserve to be treated with respect, not fed rubbish from politicians and the Murdoch press about the future. Like tobacco and asbestos, coal and gas are on their way out, and it’s time we told people the truth and supported them through the transition.
The best job for a coal miner is in another mining job. We’re going to need tonnes of new metals like lithium, bauxite, and copper to power the renewables revolution – so we need to get miners working in the jobs of the future.
Tax the billionaires
The coal and gas corporations don’t care about workers. They only care about profits. And most of these profits are offshored tax free.
The big gas corporations brought in $55b in income in one year, but paid $0 tax. You probably paid more income tax last year than one of these corporate polluters.
One huge corporation, Santos, doesn’t pay any tax. Woodside Petroleum Ltd don’t pay tax. But they have donated $4 million to the Liberal, National and Labor parties, which doesn’t just get them out of a tax bill, it lets them make money killing your future.
We need to reduce the power of big corporations who cause climate change and make these big corporations and billionaires pay their fair share of tax, to help get us to a renewable future where everyone gets the services they need, like dental into Medicare.
Trust First Nations care of the land
If we want to take the climate crisis seriously, we need to listen to First Nations’ peoples, right the wrongs of the past and empower them to control their future. They lived here for over 60,000 years without fucking things up, but white Australia continues to deny the violence and dispossession that lies at the heart of this country.
It is time to tell the truth about our history, make a Treaty with First Nations peoples and then march forward together to tackle not just the injustices they have faced, but the climate crisis too.
Because what really needs to happen now, and why we need to do everything right now, is recognise our own power as people marching together, and take it back.
Defeat the big bad guy
Since the last federal election, we’ve seen millions of people take to the streets across the world, demanding change.
Politicians and their billionaire donors are powerful – but people are stronger.
And here’s some really good news. Scott Morrison is losing his grip on power. He only won majority government by 828 votes at the last election. That’s right: if just 828 people had voted differently, Morrison would be out of majority government and the Greens would be in balance of power.
The last time Greens were in balance of power, we kept the Liberals out and worked with Labor and the independents to make polluters pay for their pollution (the carbon price), a policy that would still be bringing down emissions, if the Liberals hadn’t torn it up. Working together has worked before. It will work again.
We are so close to kicking this government out that I can almost taste it. This might be the most important election for decades, and your vote will be more powerful than ever.
As you can see from the report, we are looking at more heatwaves, droughts and floods. That means more deaths, more damage and more destruction. It means more storms, waves and loss of our beaches. It will threaten our food. Our air and our land.
Every delay, every lie, and every excuse puts someone’s life at risk.
So it’s not too late. It will never be too late. It will be hard, because revolutions are. And ultimately, when you are talking about overturning the structures of power, that’s going to be hard.
As Gandalf says, none of us wanted this to be our lives, but we don’t actually have a choice. What matters is what we do with the time that is given to us.
We, and that’s all of us, have to keep going. There is no other choice. We have to do everything. We have to fight.
Adam Bandt is the federal member for Melbourne and leader of the Australian Greens.Image: Getty Images