Thank you Asher.
That’s a good question.
The short answer is perhaps, but probably not sufficiently.
But first, a bit more context. We’re in for a cool week now in this region, with some rain. I’m heading down to the Thredbo Blues Festival in the weekend because the road into there was opened again yesterday, for a while at least. However, there are many fires burning out of control and it will require heavy rain to put them out, and this rain will not be enough. The Bureau of Meteorology announced today that the hot dry conditions will continue until the end of April. So the fires could continue until then. We could have further days of extreme fire danger and it’s by no means over yet although the current area burned is equivalent to Syria or a bit more than Washington State.
There are other global warming issues as well. Some of Australia’s major rivers ran dry a few months ago, stranding hundreds of thousands of fish and this is likely to happen again this summer. Corruption and water theft are factors here too. Water shortages generally and in country towns are going to increasingly be an issue. A large proportion of the Great Barrier Reef has died (“coral bleaching”) due mainly to rapidly warming waters and this is expected to continue. Australia’s agricultural productivity is also vulnerable to continued rises in temperature though most people are probably not yet aware of this.
An increasing majority of the population is concerned about the Climate Crisis, though probably most do not understand it well and there is also an intransigent minority of climate denialists. There have been two factors to this. One is the Murdoch Press and the other is an influential minority in the Liberal and National parties. The Coalition actually won the last election without an energy policy and only has a majority of one.
Morrison has taken note of the shift in popular opinion and announced a Royal Commission into the bushfires. So Climate Change will be discussed and there will be improvements. We don’t really need a Royal Commission though, which will take a year or so to produce results. We need urgent action now. We can see what is likely to happen here from last year’s Royal Commission into Banking. The Morrison Government denied there was any need for this as long as they could, then when the Senate forced their hand, they established a Commission with a reduced scope and a short timeframe. The Royal Commission still uncovered many damning practices and the Government then tried to take credit for establishing it.
Last December, the Morrison Government undermined the UN Climate Conference in Spain and used accounting trickery to falsely claim they were reducing emissions. They were acting thereby as representatives of the Coal and Petrochemical industries. One of the main things Australia needs to do is to withdraw from coal generation of electricity as quickly as feasible (renewable is already more economic), withdraw approval for the proposed giant Adani coal mining project and stop exporting coal. Sadly, this is not likely to happen even under a future Labor Government and certainly not under the current one.
However, there will be a continued increase in awareness of the Climate Crisis and at least improvements in approach as compared to the recent past.
But no, I hope I am wrong, but I don’t expect Australia to emerge any time soon as a world leader on Climate Change.
(p.s. I have prints to make and a festival to cover. I may not be able to respond to comments for some days).