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Australia Deems Climate Change 'Too Political' for World Leaders

Campaign says G20 must have climate change on the agenda

A September 21 climate march in Melbourne. (Photo: Takver/flickr/cc)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest assessment was called a wake-up call for world leaders to take urgent action on climate change.

Yet climate change is not on the agenda for the meeting of the G20 in Brisbane, Australia later this month.

It marks a departure from the last 8 G20 gatherings where it was a stand-alone agenda item.

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose actions in office have included repealing the country's carbon tax, axing the nation's climate watchdog and enabling the growth of coal, has said that his "view is that the G20 is an economic forum."

In response, a coalition of environmental groups launched a campaign on Monday aimed at urging the G20 leaders to recognize the threat posed by the climate crisis, heed the call of concerned citizens around the world, and put climate change on the agenda for the meeting.

The groups behind the campaign—Oxfam, Greenpeace, 350.0rg, WWF, Earth Hour, GetUp, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and 1 million women—are urging people to tweet G20 leaders using the hashtag #onmyagenda to say that the issue is too critical not to be addressed.

"There is no solution to climate change without G20 members on board," WWF CEO Dermot O’Gorman said in a press statement. "These countries are responsible for around 80% of global emissions and more than 80% of global economic activity," he stated.

Lucy Manne, Co-Director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, adds: "Young people do not have a seat around the negotiating table, but will live to feel the consequences of world leaders' decisions." Because of this, she said, "It is the responsibility of the G20 to put it on their agenda."

Part of the campaign's tactic was to include a billboard at the Brisbane Airport meant to offer a greeting message to the leaders that climate change is on the agenda of everyday people who recognize the gravity of the crisis.

But the billboard—which featured farmer David Bruer, who lost $25,000 worth of grapes last year when temperatures soared to 46 degrees at his South Australian vineyard—was banned by the airport because it was "too political."  


O’Gorman said that the decision to reject the billboard was surprising. "The reality is climate change is a global problem affecting economies, societies and environments all around the world. We can’t afford to sweep it under the carpet. We owe it to future generations to deal with it right here, right now," he stated.

The airport has gone on to ban two other advertisements based on what it said was political messages. The Guardian reports: "The latest casualties are a message from Transparency International urging arriving G20 leaders to support anti-corruption principles at the November meeting and an ad from civil society forum C20 drawing attention to issues of poverty and infrastructure."

The coalition is asking the public to go to to see how they can help spread the word.

"Together we can show world leaders that there is global support for action on climate change and that it should be on the G20 agenda," the website states.

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