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Will a Labor majority stunt climate action? If the government wants a second term, more climate ambition is essential

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, John Quiggin, writes in The Conversation (31.5.22) about the likelihood that climate action will be a high priority for the incoming Albanese Labor government. The rise of so-called 'teal' candidates and inner-city Greens challenges Labor to take more ambitious climate action, but the author suggests that room to move is constrained by pre-election commitments.

'Labor will form a majority government with a climate policy carefully calibrated to provide a clear point of distinction with the Coalition, while doing as little as possible to alienate any significant group of voters.

'While Labor’s emissions reduction target is stronger than the Coalition’s, Labor refused to commit to any policies phasing out domestic use of coal, oil and gas, or any restrictions on exports.

'For the record number of Australians who voted for Greens and independent candidates, the prospect of a Labor majority may be a worrying sign climate action in Australia will be stunted.

'Winning majority government means Labor doesn’t have to negotiate with crossbenchers to control the House of Representatives, though it will need Green and independent support to get legislation through the Senate.

'Indeed, the strong pro-climate vote this election means a more ambitious policy will be needed if Labor is to have any hope of retaining majority government for a second term.'

How Australia's expanding environmental movement is breaking the climate action deadlock in politics

Robyn Gulliver writes in The Conversation (9.6.22) about how the environmental movement is now tightly woven into communities across Australia. The author observes that the movement's demands on climate action are clear and politicians ignore them at their peril.

'The federal election saw voters’ growing concern about Australia’s laggardly response to climate change finally addressed, with teal independents garnering seats in Liberal heartland and record votes for Greens candidates.

'But what caused this seismic shift in Australia’s political landscape? And why now? We believe the rapid growth and diversification of Australia’s environmental movement since 2015 played an important role.

'For example, almost a million Australians volunteered for an environmental charity in 2019, whether by planting trees, organising candidate forums or joining a climate strike.

'The environmental movement is also increasingly crossing into traditionally conservative areas, with the emergence of groups such as the Coalition for Conservation and Farmers for Climate Action, which has united 7,000 farmers and 1,200 agriculture industry supporters.

'Much of this work remains invisible and takes time, despite being punctuated by highly visible uprisings. And after many years, it may be finally precipitating the end of the climate wars.'

 

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