Now for the humans, indeed.

But don’t expect the same level of cross-aisle co-operation. In fact, don’t expect any.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns the effects of rising temperatures are already “widespread and consequential”, opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler said the case had been made for a 15% cut in Australia’s emissions by 2020. The government won’t budge from its 5% commitment — with no guarantee its expensive and unsustainable Direct Action policy will get us there.

There’s a big difference, of course: widespread public support for kicking the Japanese out of the Antarctic, but a deep schism, according to opinion polls, on the need for action on climate change. Certainly for keeping the price on carbon as leverage to cut emissions further.

Big change happens with political consensus. Political consensus happens when polling records supportive majorities. What’s really missing here is leadership.

Peter Fray

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