Contributed by Joe Montero
The latest Essential poll (The Guardian 1 December 2020) has revealed that 75 percent of Australians want net emissions cut to zero by 2030 and 81 percent by 2050. It’s not surprising. The trend has been moving steadily upward for some time.
The few remaining climate warming deniers and those who insist on a minimalist approach, are the ones out of touch with community standards and expectations.
Nevertheless, this poll records a 10 percent increase since January, of those who want to meet the zero target by 2030.
The Essential poll also found that 72 percent of respondents want a ban on political donations form fossil fuel companies. This was up 10 percent as well. Even more, 90 percent want mining companies to fund bushfire hazard reduction. This was up more than 20 percent. More than half want a stop to new coal mines and an end to taxpayer subsidies to those currently operating.
Thus the shifting opinion goes even further, to a rising distrust of the connection between government and big business donations.
Australia has failed to even meet the government’s modest targets. Despite Scott Morrison’s claim on Monday that they went down by 3 percent this year, the longer term trend remains on an upward trajectory. A combination of creative accounting and the coronavirus-19 lockdown has created a misleading illusion.
The contrast between community expectations and the government’s lack of action brings some political awkwardness. Perhaps this explains, why Scot Morrison has just tilted towards talking about zero net emissions.
No one should be lulled into thinking there has been a change in direction. There is little content to the words. On the other hand, the shift does signify awareness public disquiet.
One poll is not by itself conclusive. There is a margin for error. Conceding this, it still remains, the margin is so big that it is significant. This suggests that the government’s own polling must be telling the same story and moving the Prime Minister to react.
The fallout from last years devastating bushfires and the impact of the pandemic, are likely to figure in the changing perception of the public. These have been game changers for many Australians, who see a link between them and with global warming.
Pressure is also coming form sections of the business community, which now see that identifying with the community view is good for business.
Conditions are ripe for uniting in the broadest possible way to push and succeed in shifting Australia to reserve the minimal and inadequate response to date.
More than appeals to government are needed though. A political leadership so tied to the fossil fuel industry and those who control it, is not going to willingly betray its benefactors. It will continue to set up barricades against any meaningful change.
Only refusal by many to go along with and legitimise non-action, and the willingness of a big enough number Australians to shift, from passive opposition to active participation as agents of change, is going make all the difference.