Australia will hold national elections this week and there is no question that climate change is a front-and-center issue. I’ve appeared on a number of panels to discuss the election, and the matter of global warming has come up every time.
First off, it’s a serious issue.
Second, the fight over how to address it has forced leadership changes in both major parties here.
Third, and most important, tens of thousands of Australians—including Bob Brown, the leader of the Green Party that could hold the balance of power in the Australian Senate after the voting is done—took to the streets for mass demonstrations demanding action.
Most American media did not note the demonstrations.
But former Vice President Al Gore caught a mention of them and was inspired to suggest that activists in the United States should follow the lead of the Australians and take it to the streets.
In a blog post published Tuesday, titled "The Movement We Need," Gore writes:
Around the world, when politicians fail to act to solve the climate crisis, people are taking action:
“Tens of thousands of protesters – and a few skeptics – have taken to the streets across Australia to urge the major political parties to take action on climate change.”
“Both Labor and the coalition have failed to take decisive action to cut Australia’s pollution levels in the run-up to the federal election, Walk Against Warming rallies in Australia’s capital cities heard on Sunday.”
It is my hope we see activism like this here in the United States. A special thanks goes out to those I trained in Australia to give my slide show. They played a major role in the events:
“In Sydney, Al Gore’s Climate Project presenter, Nell Schofield, attracted huge cheers when she said Australia’s lack of political action on climate change was ‘not only embarrassing, it is morally reprehensible.’"
Amusingly, Gore left off the best line from Schofield, who told the crowd of 10,000 that gathered in Sydney: "As Al Gore says, politicians are also a renewable resource."
Gore has renewed his own brand with his campaigning on climate change issues—so much so that the denialist right is constantly attacking him. But he will need to use all of his political skills—and those of his many allies—to build the movement that is necessary to break the logjam in Washington.
It is good to take a cue from the Australians. But the movement that changes that American debate will need to be far more aggressive, as this country’s cautious Democrats and delusional Republicans have created a toxic combination that makes inaction that default position. (And our cramped electoral system offers far fewer openings for the US Greens to pressure the process in the way the Australian Greens have.)
There is no question that Gore is right, however, when he says that: This is "the movement we need."