Australia’s peak green bodies are in a hot spot. Labor’s climate policy is vague and lacking urgency, short-term emissions and renewable energy targets. And it is committed to new coal mines and increasing coal exports. Anxious for a Labor victory, what does a good green do?
The Australian Conservation Foundation is welding itself onto Labor, and whispering quietly on Labor’s climate policy shortcomings. There is a revolving door between the ACF and Labor’s front-bench offices, and the ACF conspicuously failed to sign off on the peak green election manifesto “Turning Down the Heat”, or the peak green web campaign “thebigswitch”, instead provocatively launching a counter-site.
The ACF’s whoonearthcares.com is celebrity-driven greenwash, lacking climate change information or policy analysis. In a double- or triple-counting sleight of hand (depending on whether your hot water is gas or electric), Cate Blanchett shows you how to “save” CO2 emissions by buying greenpower, then “save” more emissions by installing solar hot water, then “save” more emissions by using cold water laundry washing. It is ill-informed and misleading, a triumph of ACF’s corporate branding team over its increasingly angry and marginalised climate campaigners.
ACF is positioning itself to be close to Rudd in power, but is the approach more than hope and trust that Labor will repay their charity by doing the right thing? Such a strategy (opposed by Greenpeace which wanted to campaign hard on coal) was disastrous in the recent NSW state contest, where a pre-election “commitment” to peak greens by the outgoing environment minister to review emissions targets after the election has simply been dumped by the new minister, who claims not to have heard of it.
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The election focus for most other peak green groups is around thebigswitch.org.au. The hotch-potch of demands lacks a unifying focus, and candidates should not have too much trouble dancing around it.
While Labor is rated 1.75 out of 5 on the website’s score card, it would not be hard for a Labor backbencher to score a solid pass without having to seriously cross the party leader’s position.
And any canny politician can rate more than 30 out of a possible 50 while being opposed to any legislated minimum emission reductions by 2020, being opposed to any legislated renewable energy target by 2020, supporting new coal-fired power stations and opposing the phasing out of the coal industry. It’s on odd message for peak greens to be sending.
For an extended look at climate advocacy, Labor and the election, click here.