Climate Change Spurs Shannon Loughnane's 700km Cross-Country Protest Hike

ABC NewsRhiannon Tuffield

Shannon Loughnane wants more action from political leaders on climate change. (Supplied: Shannon Loughnane)
A university student is walking hundreds of kilometres from Melbourne to Canberra to call for more action from Australian leaders on climate change.
Shannon Loughnane left his home in Coburg two days ago with a plan to trek along major highways, country roads and mountainous areas to deliver his message to Canberra.
He said he hoped his 700km trek would form part of a wider wave of protests aimed at pressuring leaders who he believed were not doing enough to address the issue.
Four months ago, the Melbourne University student made a New Year's resolution to read more about climate change.
He said he was concerned by the issue, but at the time did not know enough about it. As he read more and followed the protests of activists around the world, an urgency set in.
"For a while I occupied that ground of feeling very afraid of climate change but only vaguely understanding what it meant," he said.
Key points
  • Shannon Loughnane is walking 700 kilometres to draw attention to climate change
  • He is stopping at country towns with a petition calling on politicians to do more to reduce emissions and pursue renewable energy
  • He set off on the hike after making a New Year's resolution to learn more about climate change
"As I learnt more I became concerned by the inaction of our government — Australia at the moment performs really poorly on a global scale in terms of what we're doing for climate change.
"This protest for me is about making a very direct plea to governments, and showing up and refusing to be ignored."

Petition calls for climate emergency, signatures from locals
The hike will take him through country towns from Yea, Violet Town, Benalla and Wangaratta to Albury, Lankeys Creek, Rosewood and Tumut.
Mr Loughnane plans to stop at each town to talk about climate change and garner signatures from any locals passionate about the cause.
The petition will ask members of the House of Representatives to declare a climate emergency, aggressively lift emissions reductions, pursue renewable energy, ban the proposed Carmichael Coal mine and other fossil fuel projects, and ratify climate policy into legislation.
Shannon will walk the 700km from Melbourne to Canberra. (Supplied: Shannon Loughnane)
"I don't think my protest is going to hold leaders to account, but I hope it's part of a wider wave of protests and of action that pressures leaders to think about really changing things," he said.
"I think a lot of people would be really shocked to see how far it reaches, and the types of things it'll affect — from food and water availability, to the range of infectious diseases.
"It's really crucial that we all start looking at it as the whole picture."

Climate change a key political issue
Mr Loughnane considers himself among a growing number of young people across Australia and the world who are drawing attention to the impacts of climate change.
Shannon Loughnane hopes his long walk will draw attention to climate change. (Supplied: Shannon Loughnane)
Last month, tens of thousands of young Australians walked out of their classrooms to stage protests across cities and regional towns.
According to early results from the ABC's Vote Compass survey, the environment has proved a major concern among respondents, with 29 per cent considering it to be the most important issue.
The results are a significant shift from 2016, where 9 per cent of voters saw it as the most important issue in the election.
Climate change is shaping up to be a key issue for the May federal election.
Mr Loughnane said he believed debate and protests would make an impact.
"I can't speak for what's happening in the minds of leaders, but I do think culturally there's a lot happening," he said.
"The student strikes for climate are amazing, those young people stepping up and demanding change, [it] is really enlightening, and it's drawing attention to the fact that these young people are going to be affected the most by climate change.
"People are starting to tune into that at a rate that I haven't seen before."


Humanity Is At A Crossroads, Greta Thunberg Tells Extinction Rebellion

The Guardian | |

Swedish climate activist’s speech comes amid police action to clear protesters from Waterloo Bridge
Greta Thunberg addressed protesters at the Marble Arch site on Sunday evening. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty
Governments will no longer be able ignore the impending climate and ecological crisis, Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist, has told Extinction Rebellion protesters gathered at Marble Arch in London.
In a speech on Sunday night where she took aim at politicians who have for too long been able to satisfy demands for action with “beautiful words and promises”, the Swedish 16-year-old said humanity was sitting at a crossroads, but that those gathered had chosen which path they wish to take.
“I come from Sweden and back there its almost the same problem as here, as everywhere, that nothing is being done to stop an ecological crisis despite all the beautiful words and promises,” she told the crowd.
“We are now facing an existential crisis, the climate crisis and ecological crisis which have never been treated as crises before, they have been ignored for decades.
Swedish schoolgirl climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks to the Extinction Rebellion protestors. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA
“And for way too long the politicians and the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything. We will make sure that politician’s will not get away with it for any longer.”
Her speech came amid police efforts to forcibly clear Extinction Rebellion protesters from Waterloo Bridge as the group debated whether to continue its campaign of mass civil disobedience. Police said on Sunday night they had cleared all the protesters from Parliament Square.
The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said the disruption was “counter-productive” to the cause of climate change and was stretching resources so much it could damage police’s ability to fight violent crime.
Extinction Rebellion had earlier said it expected its supporters would be cleared out of the two sites occupied without permission as police prepared to evict them if they declined to leave voluntarily.
Last week, the group gained global coverage for the disruption its tactics of civil disobedience caused in central London. On Sunday, the organisers said they intended to change tack and would offer to vacate some sites in exchange for the mayor acting on some of their demands.
The Metropolitan police said they had made 963 arrests and charged 42 people. The force’s leader, Cressida Dick, said the group’s tactics, centred on peaceful direct action, had caused too much disruption.
On Saturday, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus were returned to normal use, after complaints from businesses about the blocking of some of the capital’s key arteries.
Police dismantle the skate ramp erected by Extinction Rebellion demonstrators on Waterloo Bridge in London. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA
On Sunday, activists rushed to Parliament Square, when police turned up in force to try to clear five roadblocks. Activists were using lock-on devices to hold the space, as well as gluing themselves to the ground and each other in order to slow down the police.
Activists said there were three people locked on trees in the square with more ready to go up. They promised attempts to evict them would be “spectacular” and could take police all night. However, by Sunday evening the police said the square had been cleared.
The stage-truck on Waterloo Bridge was finally removed by 5am on Sunday after police spent most of Saturday and well into the night removing protesters glued and locked on to it. Police spent hours using angle grinders to cut free the two protesters who had locked themselves down on the top of truck, before winching them down and carrying them into the back of waiting police vans.
By Sunday night they were moving the activists to one side of the carriageway, and arresting those who are refusing to move.
The Met has needed support from about 200 officers from other forces to deal with the protests, which have been peaceful.
Khan said 9,000 officers had been involved in policing the protest so far. He said: “I share the passion about tackling climate change of those protesting, and support the democratic right to peaceful and lawful protest, but this is now taking a real toll on our city – our communities, businesses and police. This is counter-productive to the cause and our city.”
The mayor added: “I remain in close contact with the Met commissioner, and agree that Londoners have suffered too much disruption and that the policing operation has been extremely challenging for our over-stretched and under-resourced police.
“I’m extremely concerned about the impact the protests are having on our ability to tackle issues like violent crime if they continue any longer. It simply isn’t right to put Londoners’ safety at risk like this.”
Young protesters hold placards on Waterloo Bridge on Sunday. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty
The protest group said a phalanx of police vans were gathered around Waterloo Bridge on Sunday amid mounting expectation protesters would be forced out.
Ronan McNern, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, said: “We think they want everything cleared by the end of the week. People are willing to be arrested. There is a deep sense we do not want to be attached to any single site. What this disruption is doing, we are the news now. It is making people talk in pubs and buses about Extinction Rebellion. It makes them think about their existence which is under threat.”
Extinction Rebellion is discussing withdrawing from some sites in return for being allowed to remain in others and having its demands met.
One manifesto from Farhana Yamin, an international environmental lawyer, advocated a “pause” in disruption next week to better project their demands and press for negotiations with government.
She wrote: “Today marks a transition from week one, which focused on actions that were vision-holding but also caused mass ‘disruption’ across many dimensions (economic, cultural, emotional, social). Week two marks a new phase of rebellion focused on ‘negotiations’ where the focus will shift to our actual political demands.”
She continued: “We want to show that XR [Extinction Rebellion] is a cohesive long-term, global force, not some flash in the pan.”
Others in the group’s leadership were planning further disruption and a meeting this week will attempt to decide on the group’s strategy.



Satellite Confirms Key NASA Temperature Data: The Planet Is Warming — And Fast

Washington PostChris Mooney

New evidence suggests one of the most important climate change data sets is getting the right answer.
The temperature hovered around 100 degrees at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Mo., in July 2016. (Charlie Riedel/AP)
A high-profile NASA temperature data set, which has pronounced the last five years the hottest on record and the globe a full degree Celsius warmer than in the late 1800s, has found new backing from independent satellite records — suggesting the findings are on a sound footing, scientists reported Tuesday.
If anything, the researchers found, the pace of climate change could be somewhat more severe than previously acknowledged, at least in the fastest warming part of the world — its highest latitudes.
“We may actually have been underestimating how much warmer [the Arctic’s] been getting,” said Gavin Schmidt, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which keeps the temperature data, and who was a co-author of the new study released in Environmental Research Letters.
NASA’s flagship data set, known as GISTEMP, is one of two kept by agencies of the U.S. government, the other being maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Both data sets — along with several others maintained by institutions and academic groups around the world — are based on a merger of the records of thousands of thermometers spread across Earth’s land surfaces, and a growing volume of ocean measurements from buoys and other instruments.

David Attenborough, narrator of the Netflix series “Our Planet,” spoke about the impacts of climate change on the natural world.
As the data sets have shown not only steady global warming also but a string of new temperature records, they have come under increased scrutiny, with occasional criticism of the high-profile findings and how they are stitched together. However, the research groups have maintained that their methods are valid and that the different records agree considerably more than they disagree, suggesting that the warming trend they are showing is, more or less, correct.
Enter NASA’s Aqua satellite, which has been in orbit since 2002, and carries an infrared device that is able to independently measure temperatures at the surface of Earth and, in fact, do so with a higher degree of resolution than characterizes the NASA climate data set.
The temperature record provided by the satellite, which runs from 2003 through 2018 at present, supports NASA’s finding that 2016 was the hottest year on record and, generally, that the warming trend continues just as the surface thermometers have claimed, finds the study led by NASA’s Joel Susskind.
“What you end up with is a really impressive correspondence between the trends that you’re seeing in this satellite product, which is totally independent of the surface temperatures, and the interpretations of the weather stations,” said Schmidt, one of Susskind’s three co-authors.
Here is a figure from the study showing how closely NASA’s data set from the years 2003 through 2017 matches the findings of the Atmospheric Infra-Red Sounder on the Aqua satellite, or AIRS — and how those in turn track three other global temperature data sets:
“What you end up with is a really impressive correspondence between the trends that you’re seeing in this satellite product, which is totally independent of the surface temperatures, and the interpretations of the weather stations,” said Schmidt, one of Susskind’s three co-authors.
Here is a figure from the study showing how closely NASA’s data set from the years 2003 through 2017 matches the findings of the Atmospheric Infra-Red Sounder on the Aqua satellite, or AIRS — and how those in turn track three other global temperature data sets:

Global mean anomalies for the AIRS and GISTEMP data sets for January 2003 through December 2017, along with three other selected data sets. (Susskind et al., Environmental Research Letters, 2019)
Notably, AIRS sometimes shows more warming than the NASA data set, and especially does so in the Arctic, a region where measurements are scarce and warming is fastest. Shockingly, it even finds that over the Barents and Kara seas in the Arctic, the warming trend is at a rate of 2.5 degrees Celsius — or 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit — per decade.
This suggests that, if anything, Earth as a whole may be warming faster than NASA has until now claimed — not more slowly.
“These findings should help put to rest any lingering concerns that modern warming is somehow due to the location of sensors in urban heat islands or other measurement errors at the surface,” said Zeke Hausfather, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley who works on another of the temperature data sets — called Berkeley Earth — and commented on the new study, with which he was not involved.
“The AIRS satellite data captures the whole surface of the planet and shows that, if anything, our surface measurements are slightly underestimating the rate of modern warming,” he said.
The study also reinforces "that the Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the world, and that correctly estimating temperatures in the region is important to understanding what is happening to the world as a whole,” Hausfather said.
The new research “confirms (yet again) from an independent source that the surface temperature records over the past couple of decades are robust,” added Ed Hawkins, a climate researcher at the University of Reading in Britain, by email.
The methodologies used to calculate Earth’s temperature are being improved all the time — and the data sets are constantly updated with the most recent information. Lively debates will persist about how to deal with some of the problems involved in this process, such as that cities tend to be warmer than the countryside, and that records are far more numerous and reliable today than they were at the close of the 19th century or a little bit before it, when the data sets begin.
But the new study suggests none of this weakens the major conclusion: Warming is ongoing; and Earth keeps pushing record temperature highs, at least in the context of the past 140 years or so.
“For all the issues that there are, the patterns are not just qualitatively right, they’re pretty much quantitatively right, too,” Schmidt said.


Electric Vehicles Are The Road To The Future

SMH - Editorial

The Coalition's scare campaign against electric vehicles (EVs) is hypocritical and Luddite but the bright side is it might, at long last, start a meaningful debate about the role the transport sector can play in cutting carbon emissions.
The Coalition has gone in with all guns blazing over the past week after the ALP announced that as part of its climate change policy it had a target that 50 per cent of new cars sold in Australia would be electric by 2030.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at an electric vehicle charging station in Canberra. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other government MPs have described the ALP policy as a socialist plot that will confiscate utes from Aussie tradesmen and effectively end the weekend for families.
To be fair, both parties have form when it comes to scare campaigns, such as the ALP's 'Mediscare' campaign before the 2016 election.
But scare campaigns work best if they are consistent and the Coalition has just chucked a screeching U-turn on this issue. Until a few weeks ago many prominent Coalition ministers thought EVs were just great and were posing to be photographed driving them and stroking their paintwork.
The Coalition has defended its sudden negative reaction to the ALP's policy by arguing that it still likes EVs but it disagrees with the ALP's targets which it says are too ambitious. In fact, the targets are quite cautious and roughly in line with the government's position until two weeks ago. When Energy Minister Angus Taylor announced a $6 million fund to promote EVs last year he released a study based  on targets similar to the ALP's.
It is certainly true that EVs imply a huge shift for the transport sector but many of the Coalition's warnings about how this will affect people's lives ignore how fast world markets and technology are changing.
Even under the ALP plan, Australia would be well behind other countries. About half of Norway's new cars are already electric, in California 10 per cent and China's sales grew 175 per cent last year to about 5 per cent of the total.
The Coalition is now complaining about how long EVs take to charge and how short their driving range is. But the huge car companies such as  Toyota and General Motors are developing solutions. Indeed, the Herald on Wednesday profiled the technology of an Australian EV company called Tritium which is leading the way.
While the Coalition has warned about the end of the iconic tradesman's utility vehicle, Toyota has said it expects to release within six years an electric replacement for its best-selling HiLux, complete with the same rear trays for tradies' kelpie dogs to jump on to.
Because EVs are a little more expensive than petrol now,  most of the countries with high EV sales have relied on subsidies to encourage their use.  The ALP's plan considers tax breaks for EVs and tighter standards on emissions. But the cost of EVs is falling quickly with mass production and studies suggest drivers of EVs can recoup the up-front cost by saving on petrol. While EVs will increase demand for electricity, most drivers will mostly charge the batteries of their EVs at off-peak times when electricity is abundant and cheap.
Australia's debate on climate change has, until now, focused almost exclusively on the electricity sector but if Australia is to meet its emission reductions targets under the Paris treaty it will have to achieve similar cuts in transport which account for about 20 per cent of all emissions.  Achieving this reduction will require not just a switch to EVs but also a shift to electric buses and better public transport.



VIDEO: David Attenborough Climate Change TV Show A 'Call To Arms'


After one of the hottest years on record, Sir David Attenborough looks at the science of climate change and potential solutions to this global threat.
Interviews with some of the world’s leading climate scientists explore recent extreme weather conditions such as unprecedented storms and catastrophic wildfires.
They also reveal what dangerous levels of climate change could mean for both human populations and the natural world in the future.

Climate Change - The Facts

Sir David Attenborough's new BBC documentary on climate change has been praised by TV critics.
Climate Change - The Facts, shown on BBC One on Thursday, was a "rousing call to arms", said the Guardian.
In a four-star review, the Times said the veteran presenter "took a sterner tone... as though his patience was nearly spent".
Sir David, 92, has called global warming "our greatest threat in thousands of years".
In its review, The Arts Desk said: "Devastating footage of last year's climactic upheavals makes surreal viewing.
"While Earth has survived radical climactic changes and regenerated following mass extinctions, it's not the destruction of Earth that we are facing, it's the destruction of our familiar, natural world and our uniquely rich human culture.
"In the 20 years since I first started talking about the impact of climate change on our world, conditions have changed far faster than I ever imagined," Sir David said in the film.
Climate change protesters have closed off central London since Monday
"It may sound frightening, but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies."
In a glowing review, the Telegraph called the title of the documentary "robust" and praised the use of Sir David in the central role.
"At a time when public debate seems to be getting ever more hysterical," it said, "it's good to be presented with something you can trust. And we all trust Attenborough."
"Sir David Attenborough might as well be narrating a horror film," wrote the FT.
"A panoply of profs line up to explain that the science on climate change is now unequivocal, never mind the brief clip of Donald Trump prating: 'It's a hoax, it's a hoax, OK'."
But it added: "Fortunately for our nerves the last 20 minutes focuses on what needs to be - and can be - done on an international and personal level."
Sir David's concern over the impacts of climate change has become a major focus for the naturalist in recent years and has been a theme of his Our Planet series on Netflix.
The new BBC programme has a strong emphasis on hope with Sir David arguing that if dramatic action is taken over the next decade, then the world can keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5C this century, limiting the scale of the damage.


A Climate Reckoning Is Coming To Our Political Hothouse

FairfaxPeter Hartcher

When Tony Abbott was prime minister, he ordered more Australian strike aircraft and troops into Iraq. Not because Australia was big enough to turn the tide of battle against the barbarians of Daesh, so-called Islamic State or ISIL. But because he believed in the fight.
Climate is no longer a lefty concern. Illustration: Jim Pavlidis
"It's absolutely vital that the world sees and sees quickly that the ISIL death cult can be beaten," he said in 2014. Australia's commitment ultimately made up less than 1 per cent of the combined effort against the terrorist thugs but it was early and firm. Abbott described it as "an important global concern" and he was right. And, with more than 60 countries co-operating, it was a success.
When it came to another important global concern, Abbott argued a very different case. He and like-minded Coalition conservatives have long maintained that Australian action against climate change was futile: "Even if carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring trace gas that’s necessary for life, really is the main climate change villain, Australia’s contribution to mankind’s emissions is scarcely more than 1 per cent," Abbott said last year.
On terrorism, Abbott argued for Australian leadership. On climate change, he argued for wilful helplessness. Australia is a 1 per cent contributor in both cases. In one case, it used its 1 per cent to show leadership and effective action. On the other, it used its 1 per cent as an excuse for inaction.
The defining difference, of course, is will. Specifically, political will. Australia is at another decision point on climate change as it heads to the May 18 election.
All indications are that Australia is heartily sick of the "climate war". In the decade that the "war" has raged between the political parties, the country has been harmed and opportunity lost. Australia, an energy superpower, now has the most expensive electricity in the world.
The power grid has become so unstable that the energy market operator says it is intervening in the market every day "to keep the lights on". If it handn't, we would have celebrated Australia Day with mass blackouts across Victoria and South Australia.
And no, despite the public impression of such things, it wouldn't have been because of renewable energy. "The contribution from coal generation was significantly less than expected and renewables was slightly more than expected" thanks partly to breakdowns in Australia's ageing coal-fired generator fleet, in the words of the Australian Energy Market Operator.
Solar cell technology invented at the University of NSW was taken offshore and helped make China the world's leading exporter of solar panels. That technology now accounts for half of global solar panel output worth $US10 billion in sales in 2017. Its annual sales are projected to be $US1 trillion in 2040.
We can buy them back one panel at a time – Aldi supermarkets had a special on solar photovoltaic panels in their Australian stores on April 6 for $179 each. Revelling in the adrenaline thrill of political battle and clutching abjectly to lumps of coal from the industrial revolution of the past, Australia is missing the industrial revolution of the future.
The electricity industry would like an energy policy. After six years in office, the Coalition hasn't been able to come up with one. Business would like a steady, affordable electricity supply so it can keep running the Morrison government's fabled "strong economy". Big investors would like enough policy certainty to put major sums into new Australian projects.
The "climate war" is not some sort of inevitability – recall that John Howard and Kevin Rudd both agreed on the need for an emissions trading scheme to curb Australia's carbon emissions.
We got into this endless war as a matter of political choice. The broad bipartisan consensus was shattered when two politicians – first the Nationals' Barnaby Joyce and then Tony Abbott – decided that they had more to gain by exploiting the problem than exploring a solution.
That's not to say Abbott is solely to blame. None of Australia's political parties has a clean record. If Labor under Rudd had held its nerve, and the Greens had been interested in cutting carbon emissions instead of striking a pose, the national outcome could have been very different.
So, what's next? There is every sign that a great reckoning is coming. Public opinion on climate change has moved against the Coalition. A record hot summer, and record extreme weather events, have helped crystallise the electorate's concerns. It's been a long time since it was a lefty fringe preoccupation.
The Reserve Bank deputy governor, Guy Debelle, last month called for immediate action on climate change to avert an "abrupt, disorderly" economic transition.
Only 13 per cent of voters consider the Coalition to be doing a "good" job of dealing with climate change, according to an Ipsos poll this month. In a head-to-head comparison, 42 per cent of voters prefer Labor's climate policy and 25 per cent prefer the Coalition's. This is a decisive margin.
Internal Liberal polling shows that it is one of the party's biggest liabilities, together with its chaotic handling of its leadership. And Abbott, one of the original warriors of the "climate war", is likely to become one of its latest casualties under challenge from independent Zali Steggall, who decided to go into politics because of her concern over climate change.
Scott Morrison's actions show that he's fully aware of the problem. The guy famous for holding a lump of coal aloft in the House as treasurer has announced as Prime Minister billions in funding for the Snowy 2.0 hydro scheme, a Tasmanian hydro "battery of the nation" project, and an extra $2 billion for the Abbott-era emissions reduction fund. These are not a comprehensive policy, of course. But they are talking points for his candidates to get them through the campaign.
And Morrison is doing pretty well in the argument so far, despite the Coalition government's dismal record. This week he managed to drag Bill Shorten into the old dead-end argument over the cost of Labor's climate change policy. The Liberals can't believe their luck – it's the same dead end that the Coalition lures Labor into every time, and every time they give Labor a beating.
This week's argument was over the cost of Labor's plan for a lower-carbon economy. Both Labor and Liberal were quoting figures from the same report to support their arguments.
Labor has a policy to cut carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, and the Coalition by 26-28 per cent. A study for the Coalition by the well-regarded economist Warwick McKibbin found that the economy would continue to grow under both plans, but that Labor's more ambitious target would cut about $60 billion more from national GDP in the year 2030 than the Coalition's.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison performs a reading during Good Friday Easter services at St Charbel's Catholic Maronite Church at Punchbowl on Friday. Credit: AAP
"Relative to what the size of the economy would be," about $2 trillion, "the impact is a small fraction," McKibbin said this week. But $60 billion sounds like a dauntingly large sum.
Of course, there are two much bigger questions. Instead of allowing itself to be pinned down on cost, Labor might want to look at the question of opportunity.
How much new investment went into renewable energy in Australia last year? The total for projects under way or completed was $26 billion in 2018, double the previous year's, according to the Clean Energy Council.
And the eminent economist Ross Garnaut points out that there is mind-boggling potential for Australia's post-carbon economy. Australia, says Garnaut, could be the world's "renewable energy superpower" because of the abundance of its resource.
Bill and Chloe Shorten help to serve food during a visit to the Salvation Army's Lighthouse Cafe in Melbourne on Good Friday. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
Beyond that, whole new areas of competitive advantage would open up for Australia as a result. Australia would also be the natural location for the world's fastest-growing materials industry, pure silicon for computers and other electronics, as well as the global hub for steel-making, aluminium smelting and other industries where Australia today struggles to hold on to the last vestiges of its capacity.
This potential is almost entirely unmentioned in the Australian debate. Garnaut is delivering a series of lectures to develop the idea in the coming weeks.
And the second big question is the cost of inaction on climate change. The hothouse of Australian politics is nothing compared to the hothouse that carbon emissions are preparing for the planet. Britain's Financial Times this month reported on a new frontier of climate research that explores the prospect of a tipping point where the atmosphere not only heats up, but doesn't stop heating up.
"Some have warned of the risk of a sudden shift to a new 'hothouse' version of the earth," writes the FT's Matthew Green. "In this alien home, it is unclear how organised human life would survive."
To deliver the opportunity, and avoid the worst, Australia needs more investment. That means more ambitious policy and a steadier political commitment to change. The Coalition over six years has proven that it doesn't believe in the fight. But so far Morrison is doing a pretty good job of distracting Labor into showing that it's not up to it, either.
The Coalition may not believe in the fight on climate change, but it has ample will to defeat Labor.


Climate Campaigners May Sound Naive. But They’re Asking The Right Questions

The Guardian

Extinction Rebellion might be mocked for unrealistic demands. Politicians, however, would be fools to dismiss them
‘The big pink boat has been moored at Oxford Circus for days now, floating on an ocean of what looks like general goodwill from passers-by.’ Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters 
Spring has sprung, and overnight the high street is awash with miraculously cheap summer dresses.
Flick through the racks of floaty, swishy nothings in any H&M store right now, however, and it’s clear something has changed in the last few summers.
Swinging from all that throwaway polyester are tags bragging about how much of it is sustainably made from recycled plastic bottles, not oil. Their tights and knickers use a man-made fibre made from recycled fishing nets, and by the till is a bin of reusable shopping bags.
These stores know their young customers are eco-conscious where past generations were oblivious, impressively fluent in the evils of plastic and diesel. But they’re also human, still occasionally craving the disposable fashion they’ve always had.
They want what most people secretly want, which is to enjoy the pleasures of a pre-climate-conscious age – foreign travel, strawberries out of season – but in ways sustainable enough to let us feel good about it.
The protesters have public sympathy for their broad aim. But that’s a very long way from securing consent to specifics
The Extinction Rebellion protesters’ big pink boat has been moored a stone’s throw from H&M’s flagship branch at Oxford Circus for days now, floating on an ocean of what looks like general goodwill from passers-by. Doubtless it’s exasperating for anyone who just wants to get home on the bus, or for 999 services trying to move around a gummed-up city, and if protesters deliver on threats to shut down Heathrow over Easter then perhaps the public mood will turn sour. But last week, at least, it was impossible not to get swept up in the infectious optimism of it all. What’s not to love about chilled-out tunes, free food, the sunny feeling of reclaiming streets from the traffic and, above all, the very strong feeling that they’re on the right side of the argument?
To watch passing shoppers and tourists stop and film the protest on their camera phones is, however, to wonder how prepared we really are for the life of minimal consumption inherent in treating climate change as an emergency. The protesters have public sympathy for their broad aim in the bag. But that’s a very long way from securing public consent to the specifics.
Extinction Rebellion wants Britain to commit to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2025, rather than 2050, as the government is considering (which would itself be a step up from a target we’re not even currently on track to meet, to reduce them by 80% by 2050). And in practice, that indicates the kind of collective effort rarely seen outside wartime. It means goodbye to petrol cars, gas boilers and cookers – fine for those who can afford to replace whatever they’ve got now, impossible for the poor without significant subsidy – and hello to restrictions on flying. It implies eating significantly less meat and dairy, and no longer treating economic growth as the first priority, with all the possible consequences that entails for pay, tax revenues and public services. We might hope to create jobs in green industries but shed them in carbon-based ones, with no guarantee of the new, clean technologies basing themselves in those towns hit hardest by the loss of old, polluting industries.

'If this is what it takes': London​ reacts to the Extinction Rebellion ​'shutdown'

All of that might be necessary to stop global warming in the long run, but the difference is that doing it in six years, not 30, means it would have to happen at breakneck speed, with painfully little time for communities to adjust. Those who are prepared to accept sacrifices for themselves need to be honest about what they’re wishing on others, which is why alarm bells ring when Extinction Rebellion’s Gail Bradbrook says that “this is not the time to be realistic”. We’ve seen in the three years since the Brexit referendum what can happen when campaigners win an argument by refusing to be realistic about what their dream means for other people.
Yet there’s another lesson from recent history here, and it points towards taking campaigns themselves more seriously than campaigners. Eight years ago the tents were sprouting in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral, not Marble Arch, and the cause was economic inequality, not climate change. But otherwise the similarities between the Occupy movement and Extinction Rebellion are uncanny. Then, too, the protesters’ demands were dismissed as wildly unrealistic, and they were mocked for demanding the overthrow of capitalism while queuing to use the loos in Starbucks.
If their argument was at best half-formed, however, they were just doing what protesters are supposed to do, which is articulating a powerful feeling that something is wrong. I didn’t see it at the time, but in retrospect they were canaries down the mine. They were pointing to a boiling anger building up against a perceived elite that would ultimately manifest itself in far more destructive ways.
 Illustration: Martin Rowson/The Guardian 
You can trace a direct path from Occupy not only to the rise of Corbynism but to Vote Leave’s exploitation of those anti-establishment feelings, and to their weaponisation by the far right. What starts out as a relatively benign movement of frustrated leftwing idealists doesn’t necessarily stay that way. In years to come, if the effects of climate change start hitting home in tangible ways – rising food prices hurting the poor, natural disasters triggering upsurges of migration or territorial conflicts – what stops all of that being somehow weaponised, too?
What we should have learned from 2011 is that when protesters are asking a valid question, it’s no good scolding them for not having all the answers, or even for personal hypocrisy. It may not look good for Emma Thompson to pitch up at Oxford Circus in solidarity with climate change protesters shortly after flying in from California, where she was appearing on a chat show. But in the broad scheme of things, so what? Climate change is an existential threat, and the response to it doesn’t currently feel urgent enough. So long as they keep hammering those two essentially inarguable points, Extinction Rebellion is going to resonate, not just with woke teenagers but increasingly with older people loath to bequeath their grandchildren a fried planet.
So if ministers had any gumption, they wouldn’t be sitting in Whitehall talking tough about police crackdowns. They’d be down at Oxford Circus, chatting to the crowds, pointing out what’s already being done – starting with the fact that the government’s independent climate change experts are about to publish a landmark report on speeding up progress to zero emissions – but also listening to arguments for why that might not be enough.
Giving protesters exactly what they ask for is rarely a good idea.
But identifying what the millions who broadly agree with them actually want is critical, and the lesson from Oxford Circus is that what people want has changed.
Woe betide politicians who fail to keep up.


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