Many of us who are concerned about the climate crisis have been feeling a sense of despair since the federal election.
It’s clear that the party that has done most to stifle progress on the issue intends to maintain its intransigence over the coming three years. But there are plenty of reasons for hope. That was the key message from Al Gore when he was in Australia recently to train a group of volunteer presenters on climate change.
Gore highlighted the fact that the costs of new large-scale solar and wind projects, even without subsidies, are making new coal power plants unviable. He pointed out that while a lot of blame for the election result is being directed at Queensland where empty promises of mining jobs may have been a factor> However, with solar panels on one third of homes, Queensland also has the highest take-up of residential solar anywhere in the world.
In addition, although President Trump announced his intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the earliest date any country can leave the Agreement is 4 November 2020. Coincidentally, that will be the day after the 2020 US presidential election so a new president could easily overturn Trump's decision.
That the crisis will only be turned around with the involvement of all sectors of society was clear from the diversity of guest speakers introduced by Mr. Gore. These included:
- Pacific Islander and member of the Uniting Church NSW/ACT Synod, Liuanga Halaifonua Palu, spoke of her work as Campaign Coordinator with Voices for Power which promotes clean, affordable power for multicultural and religious communities. She made a case for ‘going fast by going slow' and building relationships through active listening.
- Conversely, within an Indigenous context, Yorta Yorta woman Karrina Nolan of Original Power said if engagement for developing policy is done properly then climate equity and a rapid transition to renewables is possible. She called on all Australians to passionately support the Statement from the Heart made at Uluru.
- Mike Cannon-Brookes, CEO of software company Atlassian, recounted his role in the surreal high-stakes exchange over social media with Elon Musk of Tesla which led to the installation within 100 days of the world’s biggest battery in South Australia.
- Mayor Fred Gela of the Torres Strait Island Regional Council pleaded for urgency to prevent his community from becoming the first climate refugees in Australia. He relayed the traumatising effects of islanders having to rebury remains of ancestors on higher grounds because rising tides have eroded burial sites.
- Emma Herd of the Investor Group for Climate Change challenged Australians to be ‘climate-conscious investors’ through their superannuation and investments.
With so much to reflect upon, the highs and lows of the three-day emotional rollercoaster took time to settle. But Al Gore’s wrapped up proceedings on a hopeful note: “the will to change is itself a renewable source of energy.” Indeed, our earth depends on it.
If you would like to know more, please contact Ciaran on (03) 9251 5936 or Ciaran.McCormack@uethical.com.