Australia’s vote for coal won’t matter if Chinese demand falters

(Eco Business, 27 May 2019) Calls for climate action failed to convince voters but that doesn’t mean Australia’s exports are safe, writes climate researcher Kate MacKenzie.

Australians were surprised, to put it mildly, when the conservative governing coalition soundly won the country’s election on May 18.

Public opinion polls had consistently indicated that the opposition Labor Party was more popular than the government. Climate change was held to be one of the main reasons, along with the instability of the government. These grievances were connected: three prime ministers had been ousted in the past decade over disagreements about climate change policies.

A core of hard-right conservative politicians had rejected any attempt to curtail emissions and spoiled several efforts at electricity reforms, even as businesses and investors warned that the lack of policy certainty was preventing new investments and keeping prices needlessly high. The environment minister was rarely seen or heard from during the campaign.

So it was astonishing that a government that had repeatedly shown itself to be unable—or unwilling—to address climate change was returned to power.

The depth of feeling about climate change was real. Independent candidates running on strong climate action platforms won significant support in many conservative seats. In a major upset, avowed climate denier and former prime minister, Tony Abbott, lost the Sydney beachside seat he’d held for 24 years.

The winner, Zali Steggall, is a former Olympic slalom skier turned lawyer, who was supported by hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers championing her call for climate action.

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Eco Business, 27 May 2019: Australia’s vote for coal won’t matter if Chinese demand falters