On Monday this week, the United Nations Climate Summit began in New York. World leaders gathered to talk about global warming and what their countries were doing to limit it by reducing emissions. Australia wasn’t invited to speak because our country isn’t doing enough. So our PM, Scott Morrison, didn’t bother to turn up, even though he was in the States.
We have brilliant scientific minds in Australia. We should be leading the world in finding ways to reduce carbon emissions and make more use of renewable energy. But we’re not.
It was just 12 years ago that Australia’s then-PM, Kevin Rudd, called climate change the “greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our generation”. Now, it’s obviously not a high priority. Yet every day seems to deliver more and more grim predictions of how the earth will suffer if we don’t act now. The latest: rising sea levels mean Australians need to be prepared for more extreme coastal flooding, and less fish in our fisheries.
I feel ashamed to belong to a country that leaves it up to other countries to do the hard work on climate change action.
This week also saw the world’s most respected environmentalist, Sir David Attenborough, scold Morrison for his lack of action. That deep, rich voice we’ve been listening to all our lives is now telling us that he’s disappointed in our country’s leader. “You are the keepers of an extraordinary section of the surface of this planet, including the Barrier Reef, and what you say, what you do, really, really matters,” Attenborough told Triple J's Hack. “And then you suddenly say, ‘No, it doesn't matter... it doesn't matter how much coal we burn... we don't give a damn what it does to the rest of the world.’”
I feel ashamed that the man who showed us so many of the wonders of life on earth now feels that Australians are not taking care of our own wondrous land.
I used to wonder what Morrison told his kids about climate change. As of this week, I know.
He says he wants children to feel “positive” about the future, that they will have a “wonderful country and pristine environment to live in”. He says he wants them to make up their own minds.