Editorial: Climate crisis concern finds an ally in Australian election result
Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Photo / AP EDITORIAL Has a giant woken from its slumber on the climate crisis? Australia's election has delivered a new government with a more determined attitude and plans for tackling it than the last one. The Greens got their best ever result and independent MPs focused on climate concerns were swept into Parliament. They could act as an important pressure group on the issue - and on the new government. Politically, there's also an opportunity for Labor to work with this ''crossbench'' crowd and shut its old Liberal rival out for a while. The primary vote share for both big parties fell with more than 30 per cent of voters choosing other candidates. It's a new low for tribal politics. The backlash against the major parties and frustration at the tone-deaf dismissiveness of the Scott Morrison years and his stonewalling on the environment was striking. Dislike for Morrison was a major motivating factor and polls said that climate - after biblical fires and floods - was a top issue for many Australians. A number of the new independents who ran on climate platforms are conservative moderates and professional women elected in traditional wealthy Liberal Party seats. Polls of voters in these seats showed that the climate crisis was a major worry. It's a quake to shake the leafiest of suburbs. This is a political moment when a public movement got organised and flexed muscle, in a more effective way than any street march. Labor and the Coalition will each need to be more responsive to wider community concerns. Australia is an important country in terms of global climate policy - but at the wrong end. It's the world's third-leading exporter of fossil fuels, the second biggest exporter of coal, and the top exporter of liquefied natural gas. Those two exports brought in A$180 billion this financial year. There are no Labor plans to phase out coal, or to prevent new mines opening. The Greens do want to stop new coal and gas projects. Labor has a 2030 emissions reduction target of 43 per cent on 2005 levels, for a goal of net-zero by 2050. It would invest A$20 billion in improving the electricity grid to cope with more renewable energy. There are also plans to remove taxes on EVs, install community batteries charged by solar energy and invest in clean energy technology. Heavy emitters in industry would pay under an eligibility system. There's a bigger picture that the country has the resources to move towards, which is to develop its renewable energy sector much more and provide economic opportunities in areas such as solar and wind power. As one of the newly elected independent MPs put it: "Australia is one of the sunniest, windiest places on Earth." The country is already a world leader in solar power with 686 MW produced per million people and more than 30 per cent of households having rooftop solar. Albanese can talk that vision. "Australian businesses know that good action on climate change is good for jobs and good for our economy, and I want to join the global effort," he told the BBC. Time will tell if the country can wean itself off its existing economic strengths and create new ones. Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. 'If I return to visit my dying mother I will be arrested on the spot.'