Climate concerns and Equinor scepticism characterise the election in Australia
Increasing climate concern may decide the general election in Australia. Labor leader Bill Shorten promises to investigate the danger of oil spills in the Great Australian Bight, where Equinor (Statoil) has an oil exploration license.
Labor, led by Bill Shorten, leads by 51 per cent before the May 18 election, according to Newspoll, a lead they’ve held for months ahead of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government coalition.
Morrison’s prospect of re-election may wreck precisely on the climate issues, two years after he brandished a lump of coal up before the Australian Parliament and said “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be scared. It won’t hurt you. It’s coal,” writes BBC.
Two out of three adult Australians believe climate change is the biggest threat to the security of the country, according to the Lowy Institute Poll. The population has felt the consequences of environmental destruction and global warming. With summer temperatures well above 40 degrees centigrade in large parts of Australia and a weak ozone layer, the country heads the statistics over skin cancer. Other extreme weather effects worries as well.
Since the turn of the year, the state of Queensland has had extreme drought which has triggered 120 forest fires, followed by a hundred-year flood that killed at least 500,000 livestock, as well as threatening much of the wildlife in the area.
This week, 13 activists were arrested during a climate protest in Sydney. At the same time, a group of Aborigines have complained Australia’s government before the United Nations; This for violating their rights by refraining from taking action on the climate:
The tide rises annually and our homes, lands and cultural monuments are flooded.
Resistance to Equinor
Norwegian oil exploration plans have also become a theme in the Australian election campaign, after Equinor secured two exploration licenses in the Great Australian Bight, with the possibility of drilling commencing in 2020. The plans have triggered protests in Australia, brandishing slogans with inscriptions such as “No way, Norway!”. Many Australians fear for oil leaks, greenhouse gas emission and less biodiversity.
“If I form a government, one of my first decisions will be to get an oil spill study,” Labor Lader Bill Shorten promises, according to Canberra Times.
Shorten is criticized by Senator Simon Birmingham of the Liberal party, who believes Labor has taken an about-turn the Equinor matter.
“Yesterday Labor still backed the national independent offshore exploration agency to do the full analysis and back it,” he told a debate in Adelaide.
The cost of cuts
Morrison has built his election campaign on Australia’s strong economic situation, despite the slowdown in recent months. The Prime Minister has emphasised the importance of climate measures but maintains that large climate cuts can hit the economic stability of Australia. He has set a target of up to 28 per cent greenhouse gas emission by 2030. Shorten, on the other hand, demands 45 per cent cuts.
“What will your climate cut cost the Australian population?” Morrison asks during a televised debate.
“The government often emphasises the cost of climate measures, but never mentions the costs of lack of climate measures,” Shorten replies.
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