Climate activists in Australia called for escalated pressure after the surprise re-election of conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison over the weekend
"The fight is not over," said Greenpeace Australia.
This isn’t what we wanted to write today.— 350Australia (@350Australia) May 19, 2019
But communities around Aus are already ahead of politicians on #climatechange, and will drive change. If the Morrison Govt won’t lead, the people of Australia WILL. Read: https://t.co/QphHuarrdA #1point5 #climateelection #ausvotes pic.twitter.com/5ydTylRfXY
Calling the results "horrifying," NYU professor Kate Crawford said on Twitter: "We're on the brink of climate catastrophe. Australia is one of the top carbon emitters per capita in the world. The new leader has no climate change policy, and walked into parliament waving a chunk of coal. Not even kidding."
As Reuters reported,
Battered by extended droughts, damaging floods, and more bushfires, Australian voters had been expected to hand a mandate to the Labor party to pursue its ambitious targets for renewable energy and carbon emissions cuts.
Instead, they rejected the opposition's plans for tax reform and climate action, re-electing a Liberal-led center-right coalition headed by Morrison, a devout Pentecostal churchgoer who thanked fellow worshippers for his win at a Sydney church early on Sunday.
"A coalition of a small number of bad actors now threaten the survivability of our species," Michael Mann, atmospheric science professor and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, told ThinkProgress. He pointed to "the fossil fueled Murdoch media empire, which saturated the country with dishonest right-wing campaign propaganda."
Morrison's win drew praise from extractive industries, perhaps unsurprisingly due to his status as a "coal-cuddler."
The Minerals Council of Australia welcomed Morrison's re-election, and said the result reflected "a clear mandate for resources projects that have lawful approvals to proceed, such as the Adani coal mine in central Queensland and the Yeelirrie uranium mine in Western Australia."
Groups advocating for a stable planetary system, however, said that projects like the Adani coal mine are exactly the wrong path to pursue given the climate crisis.
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Australian Conservation Foundation's CEO Kelly O’Shanassy called it "a problem that the major political party that won this election did not put forward substantive climate change policies at the same time the scientific evidence is very clear that only a rapid transition, including halting the expansion of coal exploitation like the Adani mine, is needed to keep global warming at relatively safe levels."
"And it is a problem that the major political party that won this election did not put forward substantive nature protection policies just weeks after a landmark global scientific report warned biodiversity is declining at such a rapid rate it risks human society," said O’Shanassy.
"At some point," she added, "Australia must reconcile the action needed to halt the climate crisis and crash of nature with our deficient national plans and policies."
Grassroots actions have underscored the nation's need to transition to a zero-carbon economy, said Friends of the Earth.
"People across the continent rallied alongside school strikers and their clear demands for action and their calls to stop the Adani coal mine, for no new coal, oil and gas projects, and for 100 percent renewable energy by 2030," the group said in a statement.
"We know this is what is needed."
The Australia-Pacific branch of Greenpeace, for its part, responded to the election results with a lengthy Twitter thread laying out the fight ahead.
This result flies in the face of all Australians who’ve fought for our climate. For pristine oceans, for clean air, for the thousands of young Australians scared for what their future holds. We demanded they declare an emergency, and they shook a lump of coal in our faces.— Greenpeace Aus Pac (@GreenpeaceAP) May 18, 2019
Tonight we learned something profound, something that changes the ballgame. It will require every one of us to stand up in a way we’ve never before. The system is broken. And as long our politics are shackled to the coal industry and vested interest, we’ll never fix it.— Greenpeace Aus Pac (@GreenpeaceAP) May 18, 2019
Now is not the time to leave. Now is the time to hold each other close, to pick each other up, and to stand up and fight.— Greenpeace Aus Pac (@GreenpeaceAP) May 18, 2019
If the climate-wreckers in the Coalition think we’re going to go away quietly, they’ve got another thing coming.
We’ll be fighting back. Harder than we ever have before.— Greenpeace Aus Pac (@GreenpeaceAP) May 18, 2019
Now a new fight begins.