Australian Climate Emergency Petition Reaches 370,000 Signatures

A petition calling on the House of Representatives to a declare a climate emergency attracted hundreds of thousands of signatures, but a recent motion in Parliament failed.

The petition request closed at midnight last night with 370,004 signatures; with more than 17,000 signatures added since we mentioned the petition yesterday. It sought not only a declaration but also the introduction of legislation “that will with immediacy and haste reduce the causes of anthropogenic climate change”.

Earlier this week, the Government blocked the Greens’ climate emergency declaration. The Greens’ motion was supported by Labor.

“The first step to addressing a problem is admitting you have a problem,” said Greens MP Adam Bandt. “We will keep fighting for Parliament to face the reality of the climate crisis.”

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor was scathing of the attempt, saying of the Greens:

“Talk about symbolism! The party of protest is all about grand symbolic gestures and emotive language, but has absolutely no idea about the real and practical needs of everyday Australians.”

Labor also copped an earful from Minister Taylor for its role in the attempt. Mr. Taylor then went on to say the Coalition had a track record of meeting and beating targets.

“We’re on track to beat our 2020 targets by 367 million tonnes. That is the envy of the world.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) isn’t quite so bullish about Australia’s prospects, reportedly indicating it is in danger of failing to meet its commitments for the Paris agreement.

Local Councils Leading The Way

While the Federal Government may be resistant to making a declaration, local government has been stepping up to the plate. 63 councils across Australia have done so, the latest being Rural City of Murray Bridge in South Australia on Monday.

“As a result of the declaration the Council will prepare a Climate Emergency Plan that will include strategies to reduce Council’s carbon footprint, reduce waste, reduce water use and help prevent negative environmental impacts,” says a statement from Council.

One way Murray Bridge Council could significantly decrease its carbon footprint (and energy costs) is through increased use of solar power – an option it has only started using in the last couple of years.

Its 2016-17 annual business plan notes the “first investment in solar energy”, with $130,000 earmarked for PV projects for that year. Nothing was budgeted for 2018/19 and for 2019/20, $125,00 has been set aside for solar panels on Lerwin Nursing Home.

Across the world, 1,123 jurisdictions in 20 countries have declared a climate emergency to date, covering 285 million citizens.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Geoff Miell says

    Posted yesterday at The Guardian is an article by Richard Partington headlined “Bank of England boss says global finance is funding 4C temperature rise”, which begins with:

    “The governor of the Bank of England has warned that the global financial system is backing carbon-producing projects that will raise the temperature of the planet by over 4C – more than double the pledge to limit increases to well below 2C contained in the Paris Agreement.”
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/oct/15/bank-of-england-boss-warns-global-finance-it-is-funding-climate-crisis

    In other words, the world’s financial system is facilitating human civilisation collapse before the end of this century.
    See: http://www.climatecodered.org/2019/08/at-4c-of-warming-would-billion-people.html
    Also: http://www.climatecodered.org/2019/10/we-would-never-board-plane-if-we-only.html

    IMO, the warnings and anger for effective action will only get stronger.

    Will effective action arrive too late to avoid disaster?

  2. 370,000 out of 26.2 million.
    That’s 1.1% by my maths.

    Sounds like only a tiny percentage believe in the apocalyptic prophesies of the eco-evangelists

    • Des Scahill says

      What we don’t know of course are the number of people who actually saw the ‘online’ petition, compared to the number who actually signed it.

      Not everyone is on Face-book, Twitter and various other social media platforms, which are the most common ways of drawing attention to the fact that the petition exists in the first place and then providing them with the link to the official Parliamentary website sub-page so they can sign.

      Nor can you legally send ‘unsolicited’ emails to the general world at large.

      The steps in making a petition are:

      1) The petition must be in a prescribed form, and you are limited to a max of 250 words in outlining your reasons for the petition.

      2) After the petition is submitted, it is checked for compliance, and once you are formally notified that the petition complies, there is then a maximum period of 4 weeks allowed to obtain signatures. At the end of 4 weeks it then gets submitted to Parliament and will (eventually) be handled during a House sitting.

      So.. getting 404, 538 signatures within a mere 4 week period,
      ( see: https://www.aph.gov.au/petition_list?id=EN1041 for the final figure) when essentially all most petitioners can do is use the electronic equivalent of a ‘word–of-mouth’ process

    • Des Scahill says

      OldFogey,

      You may not be aware of this webpage here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_opinion_by_country

      which gives some 2007-2008 data from a global survey carried out by Pew Research

      Given that the survey is now some 12 years old, I would venture to suggest that the percentages shown on that wiki page would be somewhat higher to-day.

      But look, feel free to remain convinced that the ‘human induced climate change’ doesn’t exist, and so no need to take any notice at all of ‘apocalyptic’ type prophecies by people you categorize as ‘eco-evangelists’.

      Do you have any thoughts on whether or not the drought anticipated this coming summer will be followed by others in future years of longer duration?

    • Geoff Miell says

      OldFogey,
      My maths says 370,000 represents 1.41% of 26.2 million, NOT 1.1% or 1.5%.

      Is your climate science denial impacting on your other cognitive processes, OldFogey?

      Firstly, what gave you the idea Australia’s population is currently 26.2 million?
      Per ABS:
      “On 18 October 2019 at 12:02:51 PM (Canberra time), the resident population of Australia is projected to be: 25,493,611”
      See: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs%40.nsf/94713ad445ff1425ca25682000192af2/1647509ef7e25faaca2568a900154b63?OpenDocument

      So, it seems to me you are already out by roughly 700,000 (or inflated 2.7%).

      As for the suggestion that it’s “five-eighths of bugger all”, this indicates to me a wilful denial of facts (but why would that be surprising, coming from an apparent climate science denier?). IMO, your premise that 26.2 million people have spoken is bogus:

      • Not all Australians have access to the internet – per ABS statistics, 2.6 million Australians do not access the internet – deduct them from the 25.5 million – so that’s now 22.9 million;
      See: http://theconversation.com/australias-digital-divide-is-not-going-away-91834

      • Not all Australians with internet access were aware of the voluntary petition before the deadline (as Des Scahill also suggests) – deduct them from the 22.9 million – I would suggest this number is quite small – how small is anybody’s guess;

      • Not all Australians with internet access, that were aware of the voluntary petition before the deadline that would not sign a voluntary petition regardless of whether they agree with it or not – deduct them from a small number and you have a smaller number.

      So, the total pool of people available to decide whether to sign the voluntary petition is substantially much less than the 26.2 million people that you apparently assert there is, OldFogey.

      Is it any wonder you hide behind a pseudonym, OldFogey? Are you any relation to OldCynic?
      See: https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/finkel-hydrogen-coal/#comment-484790

  3. What did I say ? 1.1%, sorry should have been 1.5% – finger trouble.

    It’s till five-eighths of bugger all, though……………….

  4. Des Scahill says

    Geoff, you forgot to mention the :

    1,464.776 who are in the age group 0 – 4 years; and the 486,487 who are age 85 and over,

    The first group are either still getting their nappies changed or can hardly read or write,

    The 85 plus group usually don’t give a toss about anything, including the filling in of electronic survey forms.

    The above figs are based on the 2016 census

    As a matter of interest, some US data I saw, indicated that people in the age group 60 and above were less likely to believe that climate change was something to be concerned about. There’s also a strong positive correlation between ‘right-wing’ category voters and climate change denial too.

    Also in the US, this Feb 2019 article in Forbes Magazine at:

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/energyinnovation/2019/04/22/renewable-energy-job-boom-creating-economic-opportunity-as-coal-industry-slumps/#2f329db33665

    gives some factual data about the growth in ‘renewable’ industry jobs, within the USA as a whole, compared to a marked slowing down of coal industry growth. This is despite the Trump administration slapping tariffs on imported solar panels, which only caused a temporary dip in growth.

    Some 3.3 million Americans now work in ‘clean’ energy jobs, outnumbering ‘fossil fuel’ workers 3 to 1.

    The US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that: America’s two fastest-growing jobs through (to) 2026 will be solar installer (105% growth) and wind technician (96% growth).

    There’a mass of statistics in the above article, so I won’t quote too many of them, but, broadly speaking –
    – coal exports are falling fast, because coal prices are steadily falling in international markets
    – the more ‘switched-on’ American states are busily converting coal power stations scheduled for closure to solar, to take advantage of their closeness to existing grid connections. This puts the contaminated land surrounding those coal power stations to good use.
    – wind power ‘now provides a quarter or more of total electricity in five Great Plains states and is one of the cheapest new generation options across most of the central U.S. – including the PRB, where America’s largest wind farm is under development with $5 billion in new potential investment. Wind will also be cost-competitive and offer employment opportunities across the country’s second and third largest coal-producing regions, the Appalachian and Illinois Basins, by 2025.’

    A practical illustration of how one US town, located near a closed coal power station made a transition to ‘renewables’, and in so doing created new employment and business opportunities, while compensating for loss of tax revenue due to the mine closure, can be read about here.

    https://www.smartcitiesdive.com/news/holyoke-coal-fired-power-plant/546447/

  5. Geoff Miell says

    Des Scahill,

    I would suggest the “1,464.776 who are in the age group 0 – 4 years” would be in either the:
    1. Not all Australians have access to the internet category; or
    2. Not all Australians with internet access were aware of the voluntary petition before the deadline category.

    As for “the 486,487 who are age 85 and over”, I would suggest most of them are in the first category.

    Thanks anyway for indicating the magnitude of these demographics – it just reinforces my point that OldFogey’s claim that “only a tiny percentage believe” is bogus. A RenewEconomy article highlights:

    “An official e-petition call on the parliament to declare a climate emergency closed on Wednesday after collecting more than 370,000 signatures, smashing the record for an official e-petition.”
    See: https://reneweconomy.com.au/independent-mp-zali-steggall-to-propose-climate-change-bill-to-parliament-44214/

    I think the momentum will now build quickly. More and more people are beginning to realise our State and Federal governments are not effectively acting on dangerous climate change and that presents an escalating risk of civilisation collapse and social chaos in the next few decades.
    See my comment: https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/australia-climate-emergency-mb1256/#comment-511768

    Thanks for the Forbes link. A more recent (Oct 18) article from Bloomberg on a similar note headlined “Trump Vowed to Save Coal, Now Miners Are Getting Laid Off” is referred to here:
    http://ieefa.org/analysts-see-big-job-cuts-on-horizon-for-u-s-coal-mining-sector-as-demand-continues-downward/

    Some communities in the NSW Hunter valley appear to recognize a transition is needed.
    See: https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/6421824/federal-and-state-governments-under-pressure-as-inquiry-urged-to-recommend-hunter-transition-planning/

    IMO, some leaders in the Lithgow community apparently still have their ‘heads-in-the-sand’. See as an example of entrenched attitudes apparent in a letter by Lithgow City Council Mayor Ray Thompson and Councillor Wayne McAndrew on page 2 of issue #279 (27 Sep 2019) of the Village Voice local paper: https://issuu.com/villagevoice.net.au/docs/village190927-web

    These attitudes are being challenged – see two letters in response to Councillors Thompson & McAndrew in the following week’s issue #280 (4 Oct 2019) on page 2: https://issuu.com/villagevoice.net.au/docs/village191004-web

    Meanwhile, the Independent Planning Commission NSW (IPCN) refused consent for the Bylong Coal Project on Sep 18. Reasons for refusal are found here:
    https://www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/resources/pac/media/files/pac/projects/2018/10/bylong-coal-project/determination/bylong-coal-project-ssd-6367–statement-of-reasons-for-decision.pdf

    Within a week, the NSW Minerals Council launched an ad (or is it propaganda?) campaign attacking the IPCN.
    See: https://www.theland.com.au/story/6402320/miners-launch-campaign-targeting-independent-planning-commission/

    It seems to me the NSW Government has now given in to pressure from foreign-backed vested interests. The IPCN will apparently now face “a review”.
    See: https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6095988407001

    I just wonder who’s running NSW? IMO, NSW citizens’ long-term interests are not being best served.

  6. Des Scahill says

    No, I don’t think ‘foreign-backed vested interests’ are involved. Lithgow, which is within the Federal Division of Calare is currently held by the Nationals. The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers’ Party – which represents the interest of farmers – gained 17.38% of the primary votes in the 2016 election, while the United Party and Liberal Democrats between them gained a combined a primary vote share of 7.8%.

    After distribution of preferences, the Nationals – who initially gained 44.71% of the primary vote – jumped to a 63.29% majority, so it seems pretty clear where many of the second preferences went to.

    I interpret the above as partly indicating the disillusionment of voters with the two major parties, which then created a political vacuum into which flowed a variety of extremist and hard-line right-wing/populist parties in the 2016 elections.

    To some extent, the NSW Minerals Council are entitled to feel fed-up with things, they’ve been stuffed around with delays, changing requirements, etc etc just like the rest of us have, simply because there’s a total absence of any agreed upon long-term energy policy thats factored in a sensible and just transition to renewables that took into account social impacts such as job losses etc. If that had been done back in 2006, following the broader recommendations of the Finkel report, the problems we now have would likely have been diminished substantially.

    What we now have instead is an ‘adversarial’ situation, with the environmentalists being ‘blamed’ for everything whereas the real fault lies with the two major parties for making a complete bollix of things in the first place. As well, we are currently also being rapidly overtaken by real world climate change related events, which I venture to suggest are going to occur much faster than anticipated.

    If anyone’s at fault, we ourselves are because we voted them in.

    • Geoff Miell says

      Des Scahill,

      The NSW Minerals Council lists its Full Members and Associate Members here:
      http://www.nswmining.com.au/menu/about-nsw-minerals-council/our-members

      I would suggest a significant proportion of the NSW MC membership are majority foreign-owned. Some of these include:
      – BHP
      – Centennial Coal
      – Glencore
      – KEPCO
      – Peabody
      – Shenhua
      See: https://www.michaelwest.com.au/the-minerals-council-coal-and-the-half-a-billion-spent-by-the-resources-lobby/

      It seems remarkable to me that within less than a month of an intensive ad campaign conducted by the NSW Minerals Council (perhaps you haven’t been exposed to these ads where you live?), helped along by commentators in the Murdoch media, Sky News, (the usual suspects etc.), the NSW Government has indicated it will conduct “a review” of the Independent Planning Commission NSW. Interesting that 2GB’s broadcaster Alan Jones, apparently was against the Bylong Coal Project because it disturbs prime agricultural land.

      It seems to me, if foreign-backed vested interests (through vigorous lobbying by the NSW MC, etc.) don’t like the independent umpire’s decision (i.e. the IPCN) then get rid of the umpire, or change the rules, to enable a more favourable outcome.

      You state:
      “If anyone’s at fault, we ourselves are because we voted them in.”

      Agreed. We may well rue the day! But isn’t that a reflection of an apparently ill-informed, apathetic and gullible electorate?

      • Des Scahill says

        Geoff,

        There’s some partial truth in your comment about ‘apparently ill-informed, apathetic, and gullible electorate’; but the 2016 election seemed to me to indicate that a significant percentage of voters initially saw it more as choosing the ‘least worst alternative’.

        What might be loosely termed as ‘party loyalty’ by the average citizen does seem to me have steadily declined, at least so far as the two major party groups are concerned.

        As well, the ‘climate change denialism’ sub-groups continue to lose credibility simply because more and more people are taking notice of real world natural events, and ‘picking-up’ on the fact that the various Australian ‘political narratives’ are moving further and further away from observed reality.

        The ‘average’ person actually does notice that – their garden doesn’t get rained on as much as it used to 5 years ago, that pollution spills of one kind or another seem to be affecting sea-side tourism to a degree, especially when the internal tourists from within Australia can’t afford the petrol cost to drive their family to those spots either, that their power bills are going up, that crop failures are causing higher food prices, and building large new $billion-busting mega dams that likely won’t be completed for at least 7 to 10 years to store non-existent water from rivers and streams that are clearly already well on the way toward drying up completely doesn’t seem terribly smart.

        I hasten to add that either renovating or building more local dams where needed for various remote and country communities in order to ensure sufficient drinking water for their residents makes sense. A number of those projects have been proposed and approved for decades of course, but have awaited funding ever since (until now).

    • Geoff Miell says

      Des Scahill,
      You state:
      “After distribution of preferences, the Nationals – who initially gained 44.71% of the primary vote – jumped to a 63.29% majority, so it seems pretty clear where many of the second preferences went to.”

      I would suggest part of the reason for the 2019 Federal election result for Calare was to do with the calibre of the candidates that were standing, which supports your statement in your later comment below (at October 21, 2019 at 6:13 pm): “choosing the ‘least worst alternative’”.

      Andrew Gee MP (Nationals) had the advantage of incumbency, which provided him prominence and familiarity throughout the electorate, that most of the other Calare candidates simply did not have.

      To the best of my knowledge, Gee attended only one public forum, in Bathurst at a morning session, and faced-off with the Country Labor candidate, Jess Jennings. None of the other candidates attended this forum, although the Greens candidate provided a stand-in representative to have an opportunity for the public to ask policy questions – I attended this public forum, and I suggest it was not a good look for those candidates that were ‘no shows’ thinking they could attract votes to their cause without effort.
      See: https://www.westernadvocate.com.au/story/6102335/gee-jennings-debate-climate-change-superannuation-at-election-forum/

      In a second public forum in Bathurst at an evening session, Country Labor’s Jess Jennings, SFFP’s Sam Romano, Liberal Democrats’ Stephen Bisgrove, and a Greens’ stand-in representative attended to face questions from interested public. A further public forum evening session was held in Orange. Gee didn’t attend these sessions – perhaps he thought he already had the numbers and decided it wasn’t a priority to attend?
      See: https://www.westernadvocate.com.au/story/6113297/andrew-gee-a-confirmed-no-show-for-federal-election-candidates-forum/

      I think the franking credits issue was a major killer for Labor’s Jess Jennings. I don’t think the other candidates presented sufficiently credible alternatives, hence the increased majority for Gee.

      Greens’ candidate Stephanie Luke was not actively campaigning. United Australia Party candidate Beverley Cameron, and Christian Democratic candidate Shuyi Chen, seemed to me to be ghosts during the election, so it did not surprise me that these candidates attracted relatively few votes.

      The Nationals didn’t perform so well in some NSW State electorates – perhaps the alternatives were better there?

      You state:
      “As well, we are currently also being rapidly overtaken by real world climate change related events, which I venture to suggest are going to occur much faster than anticipated.”

      Since the NSW State and Federal elections earlier this year, the drought has continued to deepen – more people are noticing and being impacted by the drought’s effects.
      Water restrictions in various local government areas are:
      • Orange City Council: recently raised to “Level 5” (from Oct 6);
      • Bathurst Regional Council: recently raised to “Extreme” (from Oct 14);
      • Blayney Shire Council: currently at “Level 3”;
      • Oberon Council: currently at “Level 2”;
      • Mid-Western Regional Council: moves to “Level 2” (from Nov 11);
      • Lithgow City Council: currently has no water restrictions;
      • Greater Sydney area (including Illawarra, Southern Highlands, Blue Mountains, and Shoalhaven regions) is currently on “Level 1”, with total catchment area water levels today at 48.1% (Warragamba Dam at 49.0%), down 0.4% from the previous week.

      Apparently, the Indian Ocean Dipole has hit record levels last week, which climate scientists suggest strengthens easterly winds that reduces the potential convection that typically supplies much of south-eastern Australia’s critical winter and spring rains.
      See: https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/the-culprit-behind-east-australia-s-big-dry-20191018-p53208.html

      Meanwhile, it seems the NSW Government has been ignoring multiple warnings since 2012 to prepare plans to cope with the risk of droughts and longer-term climate change.
      See: https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/asleep-at-the-wheel-nsw-government-ignored-years-of-water-warnings-20191020-p532e4.html

      You also state:
      “To some extent, the NSW Minerals Council are entitled to feel fed-up with things, they’ve been stuffed around with delays, changing requirements…”

      I agree that the IPCN took a relatively long time to provide a determination for the Bylong Coal Project, but IMO the decision process was very thorough – I suggest you view the IPCN’s comprehensive reasons for refusal to gain an appreciation of the extensive factors that were required (by planning legislation) to be assessed.

      I think the NSW Minerals Council was “fed-up with things” because (unlike nearly all other previous decisions) they are not getting their own way re the Bylong determination, hence the vigorous attacks directed at the IPCN. I suspect the NSW Minerals Council see this is as a very dangerous precedent for their members’ vested interests that they wish to see reversed quickly. IMO, they are trying to delay the inevitable.
      See: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/oct/21/nsw-minerals-council-pressured-publicly-and-privately-for-review-of-planning-body

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