From Watts Up With That?
Essay by Eric Worrall
Michael Mann appears to have mistaken a left wing electoral cycle maximum for a hockey stick.
Australia’s climate battle has moved on – leaving deniers behind
at 8 Apr 2023 01.00 AEST
Notwithstanding some absurd outbursts from the fringe, the fight is now over what form climate change action should take.
I departed Australia three years ago, cutting my sabbatical short as Covid-19 spread and lockdowns ensued. I had just lived through Black Summer, a climate change-fueled disaster marked by unprecedented heat, withering drought and destructive and deadly bushfires. Though I had come to Australia to research the impacts of climate change on extreme weather events, it instead became my lived experience.
The governing Coalition had left a trail of death and destruction, both figuratively and literally. Thousands of homes were destroyed, dozens of lives lost, 24 million hectares burned, and Australia was shunned from an international climate summit over the then prime minister Scott Morrison’s climate intransigence. Meanwhile, the rightwing Murdoch media machine continued to spew climate disinformation, cynically blaming the devastation on arson and “back-burning”. Things appeared pretty bleak. Yet at the same time, I sensed that something had changed.
The good news? After nearly a decade, Australia once again has a meaningful climate policy, after ongoing and somewhat heated negotiations between the Albanese government and the Greens. One can quibble over whether it goes far enough. But Greens leader Adam Bandt put it this way: “To everyone who is despairing about the future and wants real climate action, today you should have a spring in your step, because it shows we can take on the coal and gas corporations and win.”
As we approach the one year anniversary of the left wing Albanese victory, with Albanese riding high on a recent stunning by-election win, it is understandable that Mann is getting excited by a short subset of available data.
But history teaches caution. Kevin Rudd rode to victory on a large wave of support in 2007, with promises of solving the climate crisis. But a series of economic and political missteps led to him losing his leadership role in 2010, briefly regaining it in 2013, only to be wiped out in 2013 by conservative climate skeptic Tony Abbott.
Will Albanese go the same way as Rudd? Sadly it is possible he will win a second term. The Conservative opposition in Australia is deeply fractured thanks to reckless attempts by mainstream conservative Liberal and National Party leaders to swing too far to the left, such as their unconvincing embrace of Net Zero, just before the last federal election.
Conservatives will eventually regroup, and Albanese will stumble. There are already storm clouds on Albanese’s horizon in the form of looming energy shortages. Sooner or later these problems will substantially impact the lives of ordinary Australians.
Aussie voters are no different to other countries, when we feel economic pain, lose our jobs, or suffer housing insecurity, we lash out at whoever is in charge.
When the pendulum finally swings back to the right, we can all look forward to reading tiresome essays from Mann about what a missed opportunity the Albanese years were.