On election eve, where are we placed after all the froth and bubble of the campaign?
We don't yet know who's going to win the election tomorrow night but there are a number of things that we do know:
1) The international science community has released its strongest warning yet that we need to cut our greenhouse pollution now if we are to avoid the worst impacts of cliamte change. However under either a Labor or Coalition Government Australia's greenhouse pollution is set to rise. According to a recently released 'pollute-o-meter' based on currently released climate change policies under an ALP Government pollution will rise by 15.1% by 2020 (above 1990 levels), and by 20.8% if the Coalition is re-elected. While climate change has been one of the key issues of the campaign clearly we've got a long way to go.To view a scorecard of all the political parties response to climate change check out The Big Switch scorecard
2) Labor's policies are significantly better than the Coalition's but still nowhere near good enough. Labor's most significant commitment is its promise to ratify Kyoto. This is an important step forward, but by no means adequate in itself.
3) Both major parties are well behind most Australians in their response to climate change. Polling consistently shows Australians are willing and prepared to take action on climate change, and want to make a shift from coal-fired power to renewable energy.
4) There is little major difference between the parties when it comes to reining in the power of the polluting fossil fuel industries. Indeed both major parties are planning on pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into new coal-fired power stations under the guise of so-called 'clean coal' projects.
5) The next term of government will be critical if we are to ensure that Australia's emissions peak and then start falling by the 2010 election. Emissions will not fall without a very concerted effort to increase energy efficiency and ramp up renewable energy to the point where it starts replacing the most polluting coal-fired power stations.
5) The Australian climate movement will need to maintain the pressure if we are to shift Australia from climate pariah to climate leader.
We've come a long way in the past couple of years, but we still have a long way to go.We need to ensure that when we wake up the morning after this election, and every future election in Australia and around the world, we know that whoever is elected the government will be taking climate change seriously. That’s our mission as advocates for the climate. And we need to get the message through to every politician that their political future depends on them implementing climate change solutions. Arnold Schwarzenegger had some great advice for politicians who are failing to take action on climate change. He said “Your political base will melt away as surely as the polar icecaps. You will become a political penguin on a smaller and smaller ice floe that is drifting out to sea. Goodbye my little friend”.This election will turn some failing politicians into political penguins but the work has only just begun.