The mesmerising images of Oz in orange might change not just the climate debate in Australia, but may get other parts of the world re-thinking their lax responses.
At the end of its hottest ever decade, Australia is being slapped in the face over its inaction on climate change.
The country’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously acknowledged there is “no argument” about the links between global climate change and extreme weather around the world, but has been criticised for his response to the current spate of bushfires devastating parts of Australia.
You might think the utterly terrifying images of his country burning would change his mind, but that does not yet appear to be the case.
Morrison is far from wearing a climate change hair shirt. In fact he still insists now is not the time to be discussing climate change, while the Australian authorities are hand to mouth tackling thousands of fires.
Rewind a few years and he was brandishing a lump of coal in parliament, taunting those he described as having a “pathological fear of coal” and lauding the fossil fuel he said was powering Australia’s economy and underpinning jobs.
Morrison won a third term in May, rejecting calls to reduce coal output.
His government has pledged to cut emissions by 26% to 28% by 2030, compared with the opposition Labour party’s pledge of 45%.
The leader of Australia’s Green Party has called for an inquiry into the crisis.
Under his steerage Australia has been, to put it charitably, dragging its feet on climate change.
And whether out of genuine personal belief or driven by the quest to survive politically, under Morrison Australia has failed to step up on the issue.
This year is critical in the fight against global warming. In November, countries will meet for a landmark conference in Glasgow to try to set world-changing targets on emissions.
How ironic that the last climate conference – just a few weeks ago in Madrid – had the Australian delegation accused of acting outside the spirit of previous goals by seeking to take forward emissions credits.
The world needs more from leaders like Morrison and countries like Australia if it’s to take on climate change and win.
And if the bushfire season – made longer and more serious by global warming – doesn’t inspire him, then the frustrations and activism of Australians might.
Because politics is reactive – and the Australian climate change movement which has struggled to get its voice listened to could well find its wings after this season’s bushfires.
Ditto other climate-lazy countries, who might just be feeling the heat from Down Under.
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