Calling all influencers: standup and be counted on climate

Jul 6, 2024

A rear view of people with placards and posters for climate change.

If tidal waves of science and activism along with increasing extreme weather events aren’t enough to turn things around, where can we turn to?

From the late 1970’s ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company was aware of the connection between fossil fuels, climate change, and its impacts.

Fast forward forty years to last month when not one, but two international flights experienced extreme air turbulence causing them to unexpectedly plummet resulting in injury and death.

According to the ABC, climate change is contributing to these incidents of turbulence, with more occurrences to be expected.

How did we get here?

The writing has been on the wall for decades – to mitigate climate change we have to stop burning fossil fuels – yet successive Australian governments have continued to support expansions in fossil fuel extraction, at best offering transitions to renewable energy domestically, while extracting to the maximum for export.

And now, even with dramatic acceleration in climate impacts globally, both main parties are weakening their commitment to real action, the government with its “Future Gas Strategy”, and the opposition with its nuclear fantasy and possible withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement

Instead of protecting people, political policies are imperilling the populace.

Extensive efforts have been made by professional organisations and grassroots activists to influence the Australian government to stop supporting fossil fuels, all of which have failed.

Yet it isn’t just an Australian issue. With impacts being felt globally we need a global solution.

But I’m not telling you anything new.

The facts are all out there.

Now we need a novel approach to break the government/industry deadlock that’s keeping us on the trajectory to even more extreme and destructive weather events.

If tidal waves of science and activism along with increasing extreme weather events aren’t enough to turn things around, where can we turn to?

Let me ask a what-if.

What if the influencers in our community – high-profile, powerful Australians who are calling for the phase-out of fossil fuels – combined forces and resources with climate scientists and relevant experts; then stepped up and initiated a campaign to stop the fossil fuel industry from destroying the planet?

Many of these high profile influencers work with existing NGOs; we need to see them working together daily to deliver one agreed message.

Imagine a well-financed major media blitz to get the facts to the people and combat the fossil fuel lobby’s scaremongering and stranglehold on governments.

Imagine a well-resourced team championing a multi-pronged drive to engender community support for climate and energy policies to be aligned with science by pitting science against vested interests.

What if the group, could convince the government and the industry to work together and develop a pathway for a responsible transition from fossil fuel extraction to clean energy development in order to avoid a humanitarian disaster?

What if it couldn’t?

Imagine this bloc then using its muscle to foment a national conversation on the scale of The Referendum in order to drive community support for the Australian government to advocate globally for:

  • A planned, rapid, equitable phase-out of fossil fuels.
  • New coal, oil and gas projects only to be approved when there is an urgent requirement that cannot be met by clean energy in the required timeframe.
  • Carbon capture and storage not to be used to justify new fossil fuel projects.
  • Carbon offsetting only to be used as originally intended; by industry sectors where technology has not yet been developed to enable fossil fuels to be replaced with clean energy.
  • Fossil fuel subsidies to be ended immediately.

If Australia, as a major exporter of coal and gas, advocated for a planned, equitable phase-out of fossil fuels, this would resonate globally.

It is in Australia’s interests to do this, as unmitigated climate change would be disastrous for this country.

Australia’s huge renewable energy potential provides great opportunities in a decarbonised world.

Success is contagious.

While driving the campaign in Australia, the collective would be well positioned to generate global engagement to encourage similar initiatives in other countries and work towards developing a global movement.

It is the speed of the global phase-out of coal, oil and gas that will determine whether or not there is a climate catastrophe.

This rules out nuclear energy in any realistic sense, given its long development timeframe, even if it was a viable option technically, environmentally, economically and socially, which in this country it is not.

Influencers, step up and be counted. Do what you do best.

Readers, do everything you can to progress this initiative.

The world will thank you all.

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