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Australia votes, the climate shakes

Australia votes, the climate shakes


Australia is about to vote: general elections the day after tomorrow Saturday. Given the multiplication in the country of natural disasters linked to global warming, one would expect that ecology dominates the debates. This is not the case at all and it is worrying, even for us.

At the end of February, the Lismore region on the east coast of Australia suffered terrible flooding with downpours for three days
At the end of February, the Lismore region on the east coast of Australia suffered terrible flooding with downpours for three days © AFP / Bradley RICHARDSON / Australian Defense Force / AFP

If there is a country that is at the forefront of observing and experiencing global warming, it is Australia.

On this island-continent of nearly 8 million km2, the 6th largest country on the planet, high-intensity weather episodes have been increasing over the past 5 years.

Latest episode: last February, unprecedented flooding south of the big city of Brisbane on the East Coast.

In three days, the equivalent of 70% of the annual rainfall fell. 70% in 3 days! Waterspouts without interruption.

Three months later, 1,500 people have still not found housing.

We also remember the gigantic forest fires that ravaged the country 2 years ago, causing the death of more than 30 people and millions, yes millions of animals. Lots of birds and also koalas.

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During the austral summer, temperatures become scorching.

In the interior of the country, the waves of dryness follow one another.

On the coast, the sublime Great Barrier Reef is currently undergoing a new episode of major bleaching, the 6th in 25 years. And it is more and more frequent.

The life of the inhabitants is seriously complicated.

One example among many: by 2030, one house in 25, one household in 25 can no longer be insured. Too many risks: floods, fires, cyclones.

The weight of coal mines

So yes, logically, the subject should have dominated all the others during this election campaign.

But that’s not the case at all!

What did we talk about during this campaign? First of purchasing power, jobs, taxes. A little immigration.

From the pandemic: it is currently restarting in Australia with the arrival of Omicron, and despite an effective vaccination campaign.

Outgoing Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison also highlights his diplomatic successes: for example the Aukus security pact, with London and Washington, and to the detriment of France (this is the story of submarines).

It goes further: Scott Morrison doesn’t really care about global warming. This convinced evangelical Christian has set very low targets for the reduction of gas emissions.

And during the fires of 2019, after going on vacation to Hawaii, he had this sentence on his return:

“You know, I am not a water lance”.

The Labor opposition, which leaves slightly favorite Saturday’s election, is a little more ambitious on the climate, it promises 43% reduction in gas emissions.

But, no more than the current conservative power, it does not want to touch the hot potato: the coal mines.

It is one of the main resources of the country: Australia is the world’s second largest coal exporter.

These mines create jobs. So Australia continues to open some.

Priority to short-term commercial profitability. Even the Labor opposition agrees on this. The climate will wait.

In addition, these mines are often located in key electoral districts.

So don’t touch. Radio silence.

Huge potential in solar and wind power

And even if all this takes place on the other side of the world, it concerns us too.

It’s simple to understand. With its gas emissions and its coal mines, Australia does not only pollute itself. It pollutes everyone.

G7 countries, Australia is the most polluting in emissions relative to the number of inhabitants. ahead of Canada and the United States.

If we add the fossil fuels it consumes itself and those it exports, it ends up representing almost 4% of global emissions.

This is considerable for a country of only 25 million inhabitants.

And it’s even more shocking knowing that we are talking about a rich country, which would have the means to do otherwise.

Australia has everything at hand to massively develop renewable energies such as solar or wind power.

It is beginning to do so: a few months ago, the South of the country even operated only thanks to photovoltaic energy for a few hours.

But the potential is there to do so much more.

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Except that the political power is waiting to see the rest of the world do the job for them.

And the current leaders do not hide it: the world market will end up making coal less profitable and at that time, we will stop coal.

Pontius Pilate, what.

To put it another way: Australia is both the witness apartment of global warming.

And the witness apartment of the denial and blindness of Man on the subject.

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