Open letter to Anthony Albanese: what would Labor do about climate change?

Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Greed at a protest outside NSW parliament.
Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Greed at a protest outside NSW parliament. Photo: INNAG/Facebook

The following open letter to Antony Albanese is being circulated by Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Greed. They are asking people to sign-on and send on to his office.

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Dear Mr Albanese,

Re: ALP stance on action to mitigate climate change

Climate scientists and bush fire managers, who hold the highest credentials, are placing the cause of Australia’s current fire catastrophe squarely with human-induced climate change. There is a rising voice from the community that supports this view, and it is angrily demanding urgent action to mitigate climate change.

Daily, the call for the Scott Morrison government to resign becomes louder and louder. All down the east coast of the country the alarm, the grief, angst and anger is palpable. But if the Coalition government did resign, what is the alternative?

Would a Labor government make a difference?

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at an alarming rate; their rise is mirrored by the rate at which Australia has risen to becoming the biggest exporter of coal and gas in the world.

The burning of all that Australian fossil fuel adds to the equally alarming rate that the world is experiencing devastating impacts of our changing climate; Australia, right now, is at the forefront of that devastation.

Would a Labor government embrace the 2015 Paris Agreement and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2018 upgraded goal of limiting temperature rise to no more than 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels? Would it accept the evidence which shows that to do that requires an immediate halt on the development of more coal and gas reserves?

The cost of all this digging and extracting of fossil fuel is borne by the communities in Australia now, and is a shocking legacy for future generations.

The mining companies pollute our water, destroy our soils, dirty our air and desolate our natural areas; they take their profits offshore and look for every loop hole to avoid paying tax.

Meanwhile our government subsidises fossil fuels by some $29 billion annually.

Would a Labor government guarantee national regulation to protect our water, air, soil and natural areas from mining, ensure proper tax collection from mining companies and cease subsidising the fossil fuel industry?

At the UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 from December 2–13, 2019 in Madrid recently, Australia endeavoured to hoodwink the world with its dodgy bookkeeping of carbon credits and then joined with other despotic nations to destabilise our global climate by undermining the Paris Agreement.

What would a Labor government do at future COPs?

Meanwhile, where the smoke isn’t so bad the sun still shines in Australia. We could be the biggest exporter of renewable energy, increasing our sustainable employment prospects and our prosperity, far more than contemporary mechanised mining can possibly do. However Coalition governments have done their utmost to disparage and discourage this new industry, while Labor’s position has been puny and contradictory.

As recently as December 9, 2019, the Sydney Morning Herald reported: “The Opposition Leader said other countries would fill the gap left by any halt to Australian coal exports … Labor leader Anthony Albanese has backed the case for Australian coal exports amid a divisive debate on shutting down the trade to act on climate change, arguing it would be wrong to damage the industry and its workers.”

Every comment you have made about the Adani Carmichael mine has placed you clearly on the fence beside your predecessor. Any reference that you have uttered about employment potential from that mine implies you are misinformed or unwilling to tell the truth that it will create as few as 1464 jobs nationwide.

Like your predecessor, your silence on a transition for workers in traditional coal mining areas, particularly in Queensland where conditions are among the best globally for renewable energy production, suggests Labor has a committed alliance with coal mining.

Would a Labor government continue Labor’s history of inaction, which effectively supports Adani’s dirty, climate destroying coal mine? Would it maintain Labor’s past, covert support of climate destruction by fossil fuel mining by continuing to dodge its responsibility of guidance and support for communities to transition from fossil fuel industries?

Australia is ripe for progressive government. Many voters, as well as youth who are disenfranchised and rightly angry want science-driven action on climate change: no new coal mines, gas or oil fields, including the Adani mine; a halt on mining that is impacting our water; no expansion of current coal mines, oil or gas fields and a phasing out of fossil fuel mining.

We are crying out for honourable government that understands its responsibility to intergenerational equity and will protect the future of our kids and theirs from the effects of catastrophic climate change like the devastating fires we are experiencing now.

Mr Albanese at this 11th hour, are you and Labor up to this task?

[Anthony Albanese’ address is: Leader of the Opposition, PO Box 6022. House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600. His email is A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au]

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