By Alex Kelly
As Australia’s horrific bushfire season continues Alex Kelly shares suggestions for people who want to take action. Alex has been involved in social justice media and art making for over 20 years. During 2014-2016 she worked as the Global Impact & Distribution Producer on Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis’ project This Changes Everything, supporting the development of movements of movements around the world. She currently has a speculative futures project – The Things We Did Next – and a number of films in development.
A lot of people have messaged me saying “the fires have really rocked me. I’m angry and I want real action on climate but what can I DO?” Here are some initial ideas to get you started.
Please note this article is not about how to respond to these immediate fires, it’s some more long term ideas. I also haven’t included divestment, eco transport, banking ethically, etc, but those kind of actions are fairly easy to find on campaign sites.
I think what we need now is twofold:
1. Strong community adaptation and resilience, and
2. Powerful movements of movements to challenge the planet wreckers and put an urgent end to fossil fuels and extraction.
Firstly, you don’t have to drop what you’re doing; you can start where you are with what you have; use your skills and influence your own networks, friends and workplaces. If we are realistic about climate change it’s clear we need to transform everything about our economy and energy systems so every industry and much of our infrastructure needs to change; you can influence the areas you know and care about.
UPDATED: Sunday 5 January:
With fires devastating communities and landscapes in East Gippsland, north east Victoria, south west Victoria, southern NSW, and across many other parts of the country, it has been a sombre start to the year.
All those affected by the bushfire—the firefighters, first responders, community members, and wildlife — are front of mind for us.
The scale of these bushfires is unprecedented. It’s why we’re calling on supporters to give generously to the bushfire relief and recovery efforts.
Here is an initial list of ideas about how you can help affected communities:
The Federal Coalition is currently enjoying its third term in government. And yet, like Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull before him, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seriously failing Australia on climate solutions.
The Federal Coalition has been under a steadily rising pressure from climate change advocacy groups since its ascension in 2013.
To date, the Federal Coalition still has not provided a policy agenda to mitigate catastrophic climate change by reducing emissions. Data released earlier this year reveals that national emissions are increasing rather than decreasing.
It is not simply a matter of ignorance or inaction on the part of the Federal Coalition but wilful environmental vandalism.
Many commentators have linked the Coalition's destructive climate policies to the climate effects that are increasingly experienced in Australia, for example coastal erosion and severe weather events like the recent bushfires, as well as abroad such as rising sea levels affecting the Pacific Islands.
Act on Climate has previously showcased some of the Coalition's climate failure highlights between 2013-18.
As we near the end of 2019, let's take a look at some of the 'highlights' of their climate vandalism and neglect over the last two years...
Last month, the Victorian Labor Party met for its annual conference on November 16 and 17. During the conference, Victorian Labor passed motions backing climate science and offshore wind.
The Labor Environment Action Network (LEAN), a group of party members and supporters, called on the "next Albanese government" to '"rely on the best scientific advice when setting targets for emissions reduction and renewable energy generation" and stimulate new, sustainable, well-paying, unionised jobs through climate action & enviro protections’ (@LEAN_Victoria).
The backing of the Victorian Labor rank and file for climate and energy policy to be based on the "best scientific advice" sends a strong signal to the Andrews government in its upcoming decision on Emissions Reduction Targets.
Back in July, Friends of the Earth called on our supporters to meet with local Labor MPs to make the case for science-based Emissions Reduction Targets for Victoria.
The Morrison government's refusal to tackle the climate crisis has seen the country's emissions increase five years in a row. The refusal to act leaves communities exposed to intensifying heatwaves, bushfires, sea-level rise, and extreme weather.
In contrast to the national performance on greenhouse gases, Victoria's emissions are on a downward trajectory. The Andrews government has an opportunity to build on the momentum by setting Emissions Reduction Targets that are bold and ambitious, but will it rise to the challenge?
Liz Reen, Mitzi Tuke, and community members from a local branch of the Australian Conservation Foundation met with local MP Paul Hamer to make the case for ambition:
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s refusal to tackle the climate crisis was exposed last month. Community members affected by the unprecedented bushfires in NSW rebuked the conservative government’s ideological response to the emergency. The push back was so great that the PM went into hiding.
The Morrison government’s refusal to act underscores the need for Victoria to show greater leadership. With less than four months left to influence the Andrews government’s decision on interim Emissions Reduction Targets, we’re making every day count.
Here’s a quick update on our efforts over the last month...
Victoria's annual greenhouse emissions performance data has been released as the Andrews government enters a critical decision-making period on state Emissions Reduction Targets.
The Victorian Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report 2019 shows the state's emissions are on a downward trajectory, though Friends of the Earth says a heavier lift is needed to avoid dangerous climate impacts such as intensifying heatwaves, droughts, bushfires, and sea level rise:
"Community members are looking to the Andrews government to show greater leadership while the Morrison government refuses to tackle the climate crisis," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth's climate spokesperson.
"Victoria's emissions are on a downward trajectory, but a heavier lift is needed to protect communities from dangerous climate impacts."
It has been an epic year. We've been supporting communities on the frontline of climate impacts; putting climate blockers such on the backfoot; boosting the climate movement in all its forms; and meeting with as many Victorian Labor politicians as possible...
Why the latter?
Because Premier Dan Andrews and the Labor government will soon set Emissions Reduction Targets for 2025 and '30.
It's the first time a state government will set short- and medium-term targets across the whole economy. And, given PM Scott Morrison's refusal to tackle the climate crisis, it's an opportunity that we can't miss.
With climate impacts occurring much faster that predicted, the litmus test for the Andrews government is whether the Emissions Reduction Targets help keep global warming below 1.5°C.
Science-based targets will continue Victoria's renewable energy rollout and put the state on the map for the jobs-rich offshore wind industry. It will require greater investment in public transport and greater protection for forests and the natural world.
While we've urged well over a dozen MPs to lead the drive for less than 1.5°C, we need your help to reach the rest of them.