After four long years of trying to contain the howling in my soul, I could barely believe the news. Had the Trump show really reached its much anticipated season finale? Were we really going to witness the coiffed clown exiting stage left? Well, at the time of writing, and more than three weeks on from the US election, we’re still unsure. Delusional Donald remains in denial and refuses to concede defeat.
It seems the dollar-shop despot — with the help of Republican enablers and Fox News sycophants — is actually trying to engineer some kind of coup. Or, as one bright spark on Twitter remarked: “It’s not actually a coup unless it comes from the coup d’état region of France, otherwise it’s just a sparkling authoritarian takeover.” Not so much a takeover, more of a tantrump. Ever since Biden was declared President- elect, the crybaby-in-chief has been throwing the toys out of the pram. Diddums Donny. You can all-cap all you like — YOU LOST! GET OVER IT!
The overriding feeling, the world over, is a massive sense of relief. Finally, we can exhale. With a Biden administration there will be a return to normalcy. Remember normalcy? And, most crucially, action on climate change. Biden’s climate plan has been described as the most ambitious of any US president yet. One of his first acts as he settles into the Oval Office — besides removing the swastika from the front of the resolute desk — will be to re-join the Paris Agreement that Trump walked out on three years ago. Biden also intends to expand climate action beyond the directive of environmental agencies. He views climate change as an all-encompassing government agenda — influencing domestic, foreign, and economic policy. Among Biden’s core pledges is to remove carbon from the US power sector by 2035.
Our Asian neighbours — South Korea and Japan — have also begun to shift their own environmental policies away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. Even China — which burns half the world’s coal and produces 30 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions — is aiming to reach “carbon neutrality” before 2060.
And then there’s Australia.
In spite of strong support for climate action and an overwhelming economic case for embracing renewables, the Morrison Government remains inert on the issue. When it comes to climate change, the Coalition has displayed all the urgency of a koala on Quaaludes. Despite last year’s apocalyptic summer, remarkably, Australia still has no effective climate policy. In order to lift Australia out of the COVID doldrums, rather than a green-led recovery, the Federal Government has initiated a gas-led recovery. It has no intention of updating Australia’s Paris Agreement goals (already deemed insufficient) nor (unlike 100 countries worldwide) adopting an emissions target. Indeed, the Prime Minister has flatly ruled this out. All the while, Morrison clings to coal like a junkie to a crack pipe.
So where does this leave us? As Tim Flannery writes, in the face of the Australian Government’s negligence we must look elsewhere for leadership — to the states and territories, for instance. And when it comes to climate action, NSW is one of the nation’s best performers. Among the Berejiklian Government’s initiatives: a ten-year plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and a commitment to electrify the state’s 8,000 strong bus fleet. Local councils are playing their part, too, by planting trees, promoting solar panels and introducing FOGO recycling schemes.
But if we really want to see action on climate change, we must look to ourselves. As individuals we can make a real difference. Our choices matter. Collectively, small steps can become leaps and bounds. In order to make our voices heard, though, we need to ramp up the volume in our demands for climate action. The pollies need to understand that inaction is no longer an option. There is no more time to waste. Because while Morrison’s thumbs twiddle, the country burns.