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Whereas the young are climate heroes, Australia’s Prime Minister is a coward, a climate denier who loves coal. (Photo: South Bend Voice/cc/flickr)

Whereas the young are climate heroes, Australia’s Prime Minister is a coward, a climate denier who loves coal. (Photo: South Bend Voice/cc/flickr)

Decades of Denial Have to End: We Need Radical Climate Leadership in 2020

The next decade will define our collective future. We have no time to waste.

Andy Rowell

 by Oil Change International

My heart is bleeding. My heart is angry. As 2019 draws to an end, Australia is on fire. The country is burning. Homes are being destroyed. And brave volunteer fire-fighters are dying.

At a time of national crisis, you need leadership. If political leaders cannot lead at a time of crisis, then they should not be leaders at all.

For weeks, Australia has been suffering from excessive temperatures. For weeks, Sydney has been choking on a toxic soup of air pollution caused by the fires. Temperatures have been hitting record after record. The iconic Blue Mountains are scorched red and blackened. The land as we know it is no more.

The crisis is mounting with experts predicting the country could see 50 C temperatures—over 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

On Friday December 20th, two volunteer fire-fighters died, leaving behind wives and young families. Today there was another fatality in the fire-zone. Tomorrow could be a “catastrophic” day, as soaring temperatures and strong winds continue to wreak havoc. Temperatures could be as much as the mid-forties for much of New South Wales. The state has now announced a State of Emergency.

As the earth bakes, the sea boils, leading to large numbers of fish being killed.

Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, from the University of New South Wales’ Climate Change Research centre, says “Climate scientists have been banging on about it longer than I’ve been alive. We all knew at some point that everything would come together in a perfect storm to make people fully realise climate change is here and now it is. We aren’t surprised, but we are equally shocked and saddened.”

Meanwhile, the climate denier, Scott Morrison went on holiday to Hawaii. He was photographed smiling with a thumbs up on the beach. He was photographed sitting by a pool.

As outrage grew back home, Morrison said: “I deeply regret any offence caused to any of the many Australians affected by the terrible bushfires by my taking leave with family at this time”.

But these are hollow words from a hollow man. A man who does not care about climate change or even believe it is real. His Government is incompetent at home and stands accused of deliberately scuppering international action at the recent UN climate talks in Madrid.

As Morrison was photographed sitting by a swimming pool, there are contrasting stories and images: of a young traumatised boy driving a family pickup to escape the flames. Of a terrified young girl protesting about the fires outside Kirribilly House and being asked by the Police to move. As she reluctantly does so, she holds her banner in defiance.

She is not alone in demanding climate action now.

But, whereas the young are climate heroes, Australia’s Prime Minister is a coward, a climate denier who loves coal.

This has to change. Everything has to change. Do not get me wrong: much progress has been made fighting our climate emergency. Renewables have been making leaps and bounds. Coal is slowly heading for the history books. But despite the good news, we are still currently heading for 3 degrees C warming under a business-as-usual scenario – put another way, we are heading for a climate catastrophe. We have lost much of this decade to the deniers like Scott Morrison, but this cannot continue.

So we have to act. The next decade will define our collective future. We better not waste it. We have no time to waste. For we have wasted too much time already.

© 2021 Oil Change International

Andy Rowell

Andy Rowell is a staff blogger for Oil Change International in addition to working as a freelance writer and investigative journalist who specializes in environmental, health and lobbying issues. He is a senior Research Fellow at the University of Bath and Director of the Tobacco Tactics team at the Tobacco Control Research Group, which is a partner in the global tobacco industry watchdog, STOP.

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