This week I travelled to Europe for an extended break (and offset my travel). From a climate change perspective what met me was such a breath of fresh-air. I’ve temporarily left Australia, a nation whose politics are torn apart by an inward looking, big business dominated, unrepresentative, and non-scientific political system whose rejection of the Emissions Trading Scheme only serves to remind me of the rejection of Darwin’s ‘then’ theory of evolution by Church of England back in 1860.
Although Europe is haemorrhaging in a barrage of disgusting neo-facism fronted by the alarming views and representations of characters such as Nick Griffin their exists so much development of opinion, media comment and personal action that can only be commended. Europe is far from perfect, but a feeling that even the most conservative right wing media outlets are mostly pushing an agenda of climate change as fact is refreshing.
I’ve witnessed competitions by employers keen to be have the greenest corporate car fleet, every conceivable renewable energy source being explored as a genuine potential power plant, and the average Joe in the street keen to do their bit by buying green electricity, and increasing recycling to 90% in some locations, and seeing low carbon economies as business opportunities. Europe is full of problems, its economies are in tatters, unemployment is high, and neo-facism is on the march. O2 emissions are enormous and car dependency is huge. But looking beyond this are the small but clear green roots of development towards a low carbon economy. If Europe can take such a path at a time of severe economic downturn then why must Australia be hesitant?
As my mother expressed yesterday: “these are not issues of economics or lifestyle, they’re about the future prosperity and happiness of our very own children and grand children. Inaction by politicians and governments about such an issue that will define our generation bring me to tears”.
The politicians of Australia need to remember that they are elected to undertake a mandate. Australia may be presented as a nation of climate sceptics by its politicians, its media, and its big business, but in 2007 the people democratically elected the Labor government with a mandate to join the Kyoto treaty and develop an ETS. The time is right for some politicians to respect the democratic will of the people and help introduce legislation intended to progress Australia towards that low carbon economy that is being developed in other regions of the World.