In his victory speech on election night, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said that Australia “voted for change”. This is true, but people didn’t vote only for a change in government; they voted for more ambitious climate action. The 2022 Ipsos Climate Change Report, which polled people last month, found that 83 percent of Australians are concerned about climate change.
Yet the new Albanese government is offering more of the same with slightly greener trappings. Chris Bowen, likely the climate minister, under pressure from the “Green-slide” election result, has already declared that the ALP has no intention of going further than its lacklustre election promises. Bowen also reaffirmed Labor’s commitment to Woodside’s Scarborough gas pipeline in Western Australia, which will release 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the project.
It is still to be seen whether the Greens and teal crossbench will put much pressure on the Albanese government to change its approach. While we should remember and celebrate the popular support for addressing climate change coming out of this election, the politics of these forces limits the prospect of achieving real climate justice.
Teal independents were partly funded by Climate 200, a group founded by the son of Australia’s first billionaire and once prominent Liberal Party donor, Simon Holmes à Court. They offer more ambitious policies on climate, like a 60 percent emissions cut by 2030 (compared to Labor’s 45 percent target), ending fossil fuel subsidies, and funding renewable energy and “sustainable” businesses.
The teals are pro-capitalist, their politics guided by the economic concerns of businesses. Their “solution” to the climate crisis is to promote initiatives that put a green gloss over a system that exploits workers by enriching a different set of capitalists—the “green innovators” and renewables industry rather than the old fossil fuel barons.
“Green capitalism” is a fantasy dreamed up by the defenders of capitalism. The climate crisis is far beyond market solutions and tinkering around the edges of the system. To limit warming to 1.5 degrees, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2018 urged “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. It is not enough just to invest in green industries when what is needed is a radical restructuring of the economy.
Emissions should be brought down to net negative, not net zero—that is, we need to draw carbon out of the atmosphere. This needs to start immediately to avoid triggering tipping points and catastrophic warming. To achieve something like that means ending the extraction of fossil fuels, putting the energy industry under democratic control and restructuring agriculture, transport and many other industries.
There should be support for refugees having to flee their countries and people who have lost their homes because of climate change. This is not possible without challenging the wealth and power of the capitalist class, whose priorities will always be profit above the health of the environment and the working class.
The Greens go further than the teal independents, talking about wealth inequality and stopping new fossil fuel projects. But they are not building the kind of movement that could challenge the ruling class. Their strategy is centred almost entirely on electoral politics. The Greens is a party of professionals and career politicians, even if they are more progressive and engage in more grassroots-style campaigning.
The climate movement was at its strongest when there were millions of people protesting for climate action around the world. We need to rebuild that resistance from below if we are to stand any chance of creating the kind of change that people voted for in this election.
The issue of Catalonian independence has returned to the forefront of Spanish politics in recent weeks. At least 170,000 people protested in Madrid on 18 November against an amnesty deal for 400 people who were arrested for their involvement in a 2017 independence referendum. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) signed the deal with two Catalonian political parties and the Basque Nationalist Party in return for support to form government.
Waste companies in Ipswich have been poisoning residents for decades, toxifying the air and making life unbearable. For people living in the suburbs surrounding the Swanbank Industrial Area in Ipswich’s south, it can be a hazard even to step outside.
On 6 October the South Korean labour movement lost Bang Yeong-hwan—a comrade, leader and, for many, a friend.
High school students in Melbourne taught the government and right-wing media a lesson when they walked out of class in their thousands on 23 November in support of Palestine. From Werribee to Greenvale, students came from all over the city to show their horror at Israel’s war on the people of Gaza, half of whom are children, and their disgust at the Australian government’s backing of the genocide.
Middle Eastern supporters of Palestine have long bemoaned the failure of Arab leaders to take a strong stance against the Israeli occupation. It’s easy to see why.
For the past month, textile workers in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry have been fighting for an increase in the monthly minimum wage from 8,300 taka ($115) to 23,000 taka ($318).