High profile independents join forces to end climate wars
1 May 2019 at 5:02 pm
The Australian Conservation Foundation has brokered a “landmark agreement” between seven independent MPs and candidates pledging to take action on a number of climate change issues, including opposing the development of the Adani coal mine.
The independents – Kerryn Phelps in Wentworth, Andrew Wilkie in Denison, Zali Steggall in Warringah, Oliver Yates in Kooyong, Helen Haines in Indi, Rob Oakeshott in Cowper, and Julia Banks in Flinders – signed the joint statement on Wednesday which outlined 10 climate measures to pursue if they win their seats in the upcoming federal election.
The tightening race to the 18 May election could force Labor or the Coalition to negotiate with the crossbench over their climate demands if either has to form a minority government.
As well as opposing the Adani coal mine, the measures include restoring funding to the national Climate Change Authority “to be the independent, credible science-based advisory body it was originally intended to be”, exceeding Australia’s Paris Agreement emissions reduction target, and developing “a roadmap to power Australia from 100 per cent renewable energy”, aiming to reach 50 per cent by 2030.
Another measure is to oppose attempts to commit public money to new or existing coal or other fossil fuel operations, which is part of the current government’s energy policy.
“We recognise this is not an exhaustive list of actions we could take, but it represents a starting point towards making the Australian Parliament a greater force for responsible and effective climate action,” the agreement said.
ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said the organisation hoped the agreement would help “end the climate wars” plaguing recent governments.
“Independent candidates committed to acting responsibly on climate change show that climate action is not a choice between left or right but doing what is right,” O’Shanassy said.
She told Pro Bono News while ACF were pleased to be able to broker the deal, it showed the dedication of the independent members to tackle the issue of climate change.
“There’s a number of independent candidates for this election that aren’t stymied by their party’s policy positions that actually speak for what they think is the right thing to do in this country,” she said.
“This election has been marked by the large number of individuals willing to stand-up and have a go at breaking-up the climate dysfunction and denial impeding action to cut Australian climate pollution.”
Wilkie told Pro Bono News he had signed up to the Climate Leadership Agreement because of how “vitally important” it was to push decisive action on climate change in Parliament.
“This agreement commits the independents to that course of action and warns the next government that this is what the independents are expecting to be done,” Wilkie said.
“It’s no wonder that so many independent candidates from all walks of life have signed up to the agreement because there is a real sense of urgency in the community about dealing with climate change, and a real dismay at the lack of action so far.”
Yates added that one of the main reasons he was running in the election was because of the failure by the major parties to respond to climate change.
“I will be demanding that we Stop Adani and take real action,” Yates told Pro Bono News.
“People in Kooyong are fed up with the lack of climate action, and for the first time, they have a real choice.”
The leadership agreement comes after the Coalition was awarded a “fail” in an environment and nature policy test by the ACF on Monday, scoring just four out of 100 points, with Labor scoring better at 56, and the Greens achieving a nearly perfect score of 99.
The Climate Council also released a scathing review into the government’s approach to climate change since 2013, saying the period is characterised by funding cuts to climate science programs, making public misleading claims, and ignoring the advice of experts.
“This is the defining policy and leadership failure of the last decade,” the report said.
Richard Di Natale, leader of the Greens, also criticised both major parties during his election platform address at the National Press Club on Wednesday.
“The Liberal party have been a disaster for our climate. A vote for Morrison is a vote for rising emissions, more coal mines, drought and bushfires, destruction of the Reef and Murray-Darling,” Di Natale said.
“Labor’s not much better. As if supporting new coal mines like Adani isn’t bad enough, Labor has committed to fracking the gas of the Beetaloo Basin in the NT, a project whose climate impact is up to seven times worse than Adani.”
O’Shanassy said she was in the process of writing to other independent candidates across Australia, inviting them to join the agreement.