The forgotten crisis

The steps were empty of activists outside Parliament today. Photo: Amelia Searson.

As the coronavirus begins to consume everyone’s minds, issues like the climate crisis seems to have fallen off people’s radars.

The Greens introduced a climate change Bill into State Parliament today to address Western Australia’s emissions targets.

Greens MLC Tim Clifford says while the current outbreak is putting climate change at the back of the queue, the government’s response to the pandemic shows how quickly it can work to manage unfolding crises.

“Governments have been able to implement seismic changes to ensure they can mitigate what’s going on with the coronavirus,

“It gives me hope that going forward, [the government] will treat the climate crisis as a crisis and make sure we reduce our emissions,” he says.

Mr Clifford says the coronavirus proves governments should be listening to environmental experts and applying the recommended policies, before the world is confronted with a climate crisis.

“While people are currently focused on the coronavirus outbreak, the climate change bill should lead a pathway for people to rally together as a community.”

But as the Bill was read today, the spaces around Parliament House were empty of activists and rallies.

Mr Clifford says it is understandable the virus has taken people’s minds away from climate change.

“We need to make sure we are working together to tackle the issues arising from the coronavirus, but also what’s going on with climate change.”

Executive Director of Public Policy at Curtin University John Phillimore says the suddenness of coronavirus prompted the government to work collaboratively with experts.

He says the government has been working alongside health experts to deal with COVID-19 and so it would be strange to disband the opinion of scientists during a climate crisis.

“I imagine there would be a lot less public acceptance of [the government choosing to] dismiss experts [in times of future crises],” he says.

Listen to John Phillimore discuss how government responses to future crises may change, post COVID-19.

Member of Extinction Rebellion Liz Burrow says it is disappointing the climate change Bill won’t get the attention it should, but she has hope for the climate change movement during this time.

“The water in Venice is clear blue… dolphins and swans are starting to appear in the canals and the aviation industry won’t be producing the big amounts of emissions it has been,” she says.

“I’m not going to let the virus make me give up on the climate crisis.”

Categories: Environment, Politics

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