Climate Change Wows the Polls

anthony albanese

Australia’s federal election May 18th turned left with a new power broker named climate change. Major networks refer to the election as: “Australia’s Climate Election,” with newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese vowing to turn Australia into a “renewable energy superpower.”

The incumbent PM Scott Morrison led the Coalition opposed by the Labor party behind the candidacy of Anthony Albanese. At the end of the day, Labor overwhelmed by capturing the two most significant burning issues: (1) climate change (2) political integrity (What a gorgeous setup for US Dems).

According to NBC News, polling in the lead-up to the election showed that 8 out of 10 Australians wanted significant climate policies from the government. Seventy percent (70%) said climate change was already impacting the country. The environment was the prevailing issue on social media; it captured more interests than the economy or corruption. (Source: Australia’s ‘Climate Election’ Shows Shifting Priority For Voters, NBC News, May 23, 2022)

Analysts claim the public is increasingly demanding climate commitments from leaders in a pronounced shift of political sentiment that could hold lessons for lawmakers in other developed and developing countries. Worldwide climate system failure is too palpable to ignore any longer. It’s showing up at the ballot box.

Segueing to America’s upcoming midterm elections on Tuesday, November 8th:  What if America pivots on the same climate and integrity issues? Who wins? The better question may be: How quickly will Republicans pivot, for political expediency purposes only, to support climate mitigation efforts and thus abandon the fossil fuel gravy train of dark funding? Naw! Won’t happen. Instead of abandoning a steady flow of surreptitious green stuff labeled with lots of serial numbers they’ll lie about climate change to “confuse the public.” That’s worked like a charm for decades now. Create doubt. Will it work once again in 2022 and invalidate the great Aussie climate change political reset?

Meanwhile, when it comes to political trends, according to Australian Conservation Foundation’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy: “The trends across the country show a majority of Australians care deeply for bolder climate action and integrity in politics – it is a huge win for the environment, at a time when nature needs us most.” (Source: Australians Have Voted For Bolder Climate Action and Integrity in Politics, Mirage News, May 22, 2022)

CEO O’Shanassy was quick to point out: “Australians were frustrated by the Morrison government’s inert response to the urgent climate crisis, its reckless support for a ‘gas-led recovery’ and its attempts to water down already weak nature protection laws.”

Whereas, in stark contrast to the Morrison government, the new government under the leadership of PM Albanese will stress “climate action,” It’s what Albanese wants as his legacy.

According to The Sydney Post (May 23rd): “Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will seek a new consensus on climate change with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday in a plan to co-operate on clean energy and build support for global climate talks to be hosted in Australia… Albanese used a phone call with Biden on Sunday, when the US president congratulated him on winning the election, to canvass ways Australia and the US could co-operate on clean energy, including gaining US support for the Labor proposal to host a future United Nations climate summit in Australia and the Pacific.”

On the heels of the Aussie federal election, in a remarkable coincidence of favorable political circumstances and fortuitous timing, Tokyo is holding the Quad Leaders’ Summit with newly elected PM Anthony Albanese and PM Narendra Modi (India), PM Fumio Kishida (Japan) and President Joe Biden.

The White House: “Quad countries share serious concern with the August Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report findings on the latest climate science… Quad countries will focus their efforts on the themes of climate ambition, including working on 2030 targets for national emissions and renewable energy, clean-energy innovation and deployment.”

It is the first time India, Japan, Australia, and the United States have joined hands in concert with the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as they agree to tackle a worldwide climate system that’s radically off-course for the first time in human history. But, will they succeed… soon enough? That is the sleepless night tossing turning crux of the matter.

One big loser in the Aussie election is Rupert Murdoch, whose powerful media outlets took a brutal whipping as Australians tossed his views aside and sought new sources of information. According to Bill Hare, CEO and senior scientist at Climate Analytics, a prominent think tank, the election demonstrated a transformation across the political spectrum: “We don’t have to believe that the Murdoch press controls public opinion.”

“The election outcome exposes a gaping disconnect between News Corp and Voters.” (The Guardian, May 22nd)

“Anthony Albanese Defeats Rupert Murdoch to Become 31st PM of Australia.” (The Independent Australia, May 23rd)

With America’s midterms right around the corner, the question arises, how will Fox News score?

According to Tom Rosenstiel, a media scholar and executive director at the American Press Institute, a non-profit focused on sustainable journalism: “Fox News is a propaganda machine for the far right and Republican Party.” (Source: Sean Illing, How Fox News Evolved into a Propaganda Operation, Vox, March 2019)

Similar to Rupert Murdoch’s overpowering political clout in Australia, Fox News pounds the American airwaves with whatever “sells best du jour” while fulfilling the deepest suspicions of a rabid core of followers. Will Fox News’ far right extremists win in November or will Australian political sentiments sway America’s political fabric?

Robert Hunziker  is a writer from Los Angeles

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