It’s hard to imagine that one tweet from Australian Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt could change the terms of the climate change policy debate in Australia. But it has.
On 17 October, as fierce, out-of-season bush fires erupted around Sydney and destroyed 200 houses after the hottest year on record in Australia, Bandt tweeted that Australia would experience more terrible climate impacts if newly-elected conservative prime minister Tony Abbott got his way and abandoned the carbon pricing and renewable energy legislation enacted by the Labor government in 2010.
The previous day, Bandt had written in The Guardian that: “Faced with the biggest ever threat to Australia’s way of life (bush fires), Tony Abbott is failing in the first duty of a prime minister which is to protect the Australian people.” This struck a chord with many people and launched a long overdue, but until now suppressed, public discussion about the relationship between a hotter and more extreme climate and worsening disasters.
For three years, Abbott has dominated the public climate debate with a relentless negative campaign on Labor’s carbon tax, a fig leaf for his long- term climate denialism that “the science isn’t settled”, is “highly contentious” and “not yet proven”, that “it’s cooling” and “it hasn’t warmed since 1998” and there’s “no correlation between carbon dioxide and temperature”.
Now accused of “failing to protect his people”, Abbott refused to respond for days, and instead headed off for duty with his local volunteer fire brigade. But shouldn’t the Prime Minister be leading the country, not his local fire brigade, at a time of emergency? For the first time in years, the prime minister was no longer on the front foot in the climate policy discussion.
This is an edited extract from Australia’s Guardian on the subject of global warming:-connecting the dots can turn the tables on denialist prime minister by David Spratt, first published by The Guardian and RenewEconomy