An opinion piece recently ran in the Guardian by Gerry Hueston, chairperson of the Climate Council and former BP Australasia president. Mr. Hueston said debates over climate policy in the last ten years have “taken U-turns, a lack of bipartisanship, short-term populism, denial and misinformation, not to mention the scoring of political points rather than developing a long-term framework for what is a global and intergenerational issue.” For us here at ClimateYou and as Americans, we thought we had it bad, with all the Republican climate denialists and now President Trump withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. Well, the Australians have it worse.
The whole country is perfect for solar energy and Elon Musk is building a huge factory to make lithium batteries to store the solar energy produced during the day to be used at night. But even though the head of BP Australia 10 years ago proposed a cap and trade scheme to price carbon, the country’s leaders have dithered, reversed course repeatedly, and generally fumbled the ball. Australia just lobbied to keep the Great Barrier Reef off the list of endangered World Heritage sites, calculating it would earn more from coal exports than it would lose from a decline in tourism. Very short sighted, very sad. When the Reef dies, there will be no tourists, and the whole world will be the poorer. Australia, like America, needs strong forward-looking climate leadership.