A climate action plebiscite for the Australian people

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Petitioning the Australian parliament for a plebiscite on climate policy

The climate is changing and Australia is now bearing the cost.  Since Spring 2019, the east coast of Australia has been devastated by bushfires – nearly 800 homes have been lost, 8 people have died, countless animals have perished including a significant percentage of the remaining koala population, firefighters have been injured, killed and pushed to exhaustion, and irreplaceable bushland has been damaged.  Many fires are still burning, including one mega fire more than 7 times the size of Wales.  Scientists have confirmed that these unprecedented and early bushfires have been exacerbated by climate change. 

Temperatures are rising, already we are 1 degree warmer than a century ago.  Australia’s two hottest days ever have been in the last week.  We are running out of water due to a lengthy drought.  Some towns face empty water reserves, and Sydney faces stage 3 water restrictions.  Climate change is wreaking havoc on our oceans, with a massive die-off in WA due to water much warmer than usual; and the Great Barrier Reef bleached likely beyond salvation.

Our PM Scott Morrison went on holiday during our country’s time of need.  Due to mounting criticism, he returned early.  But on his return, he has doubled down on his climate inaction.  He has stated that Australia is ‘doing our bit’, and that he plans to make no changes to our emissions policy.  This is in contrast to his Deputy Michael McCormack who has conceded that he ‘absolutely’ accepts that more action is needed to address climate change.

Without climate action, our country faces an uncertain future.  We face summers inside to escape the scorching heat, more heat related deaths especially in the elderly and those unable to afford air conditioning.  We face earlier and more severe bushfires, with subsequent loss of human and animal life, and destruction of property.  We face food and water insecurity as drought affects crops, arable land shrinks, and water is not the abundant commodity we take for granted.  We also lose any ability to pressure other countries to act if we cannot make our own contribution.

Climate change is not a political issue, it is an existential one.  A Lowy poll this year found that 64% of adults rank climate change as the number one threat to Australia’s national interest.  60% of people want prompt action despite the cost.  A further 24% want action but prefer transition to be more gradual.   And these numbers pre date the bushfire crisis. 

Australia is not a bit player when it comes to climate change.  We are the 13th largest emitter in the world, and one of the highest polluters per person.  We have an inadequate emissions reduction target of 5% reduction from year 2000 levels.  This will not allow us to stay under 2 degrees warming.

We are not willing to watch and wait while our country burns.  We cannot wait another 2 years for an election to make our opinions heard.  We need climate action now.  And we need it at a governmental level.  Previous efforts to encourage the federal government to declare a climate emergency have been unsuccessful, so we now call for a public plebiscite on climate action.  We believe that Australians have the right to vote for climate action, such is the level of importance of this issue.

In the absence of adequate climate action, we request a parliamentary conscience vote to allow a plebiscite for the Australian public.  This plebiscite would ask ‘Should the law be changed to require the government to enact legislation and policy to protect all Australians from the catastrophic environmental and health effects of climate change currently upon us.  This legislation will include a planned reduction in emissions in line with a target to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees.’ 

We ask that this take place as soon as is practicable, given we are in an emergency.  We ask that a result supporting the premise be considered the will of the people and be acted on. 

Please sign and share this petition.  You have probably signed many petitions, but even those which don’t have direct outcomes, do put pressure on the government to act.  Post this petition anywhere people are talking about climate change.  We can get climate action, but we have to make the voices of Australians heard.