Environment ministers say the darndest things!

(and we’re not even talking about Peter Garrett)

Last Tuesday, Yarra Climate Action Now (YCAN) attended a consultation session on the Victorian State Government’s Climate Change Green Paper. The session was well run and designed to illicit feedback on the Paper in preparation for the development of the White Paper and subsequent climate change legislation.

The feedback on the day was overwhelmingly negative. Almost every table (we were seated in groups at round tables) criticised the Brumby Government Paper for not having many concrete actions, not supporting the roll-out of renewable energy technologies sufficiently, not having policies that are science-based that adequately address the size of the climate crisis, and for handballing all greenhouse gas mitigation responsibilities over to the Federal Government, even while the Federal Government has proven, through the design of the pathetic Carbon Polluters Rewards Scheme (CPRS) that it is not willing to take climate change seriously and it is not willing to cut our emissions to a degree that will avoid runaway, catastrophic climate change.

Business as usual, in other words.

In the face of this criticism, the Victorian Environment and Climate Change Minister, Gavin Jennings made some truly strange closing remarks.

Although he spoke in true politician style using very ambiguous language, the implications (note – not a direct quote) of his remarks were as follows:

“I understand that we are not doing enough according to the current climate science. However, the people in this room who have criticised our Green Paper are particularly engaged in this issue and are not representative of the wider Victorian population. Therefore, we won’t do what you say, even if I know it is the right thing to do, because we believe it isn’t popular enough.”

Many people left shocked. Was this the confession of a Minister who knows his government is failing on climate change? Was he trying to ease his conscience? Or is he admitting that his career is more important than the future of humanity?

In any case Minister Jennings’ words are a call to action. If the Brumby Government thinks that (really) acting on climate change – which means transitioning our power supply away from coal by 2020 at the latest – isn’t popular enough, we need to prove them wrong, and we can also use our vote to support those candidates that will act.

If you haven’t told a politician what you think about climate change yet, please do. And you can write your own submission to the Green Paper. To help YCAN write our submission (due 30 September) please get in touch.