Will they take us all with them?
While temperatures in the western suburbs of Sydney reached 47°C in mid- February and Palerang experienced a series of horrendous bushfires, right-wing politicians around the globe have stepped up their efforts to send the planet over the edge.
In Australia, One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts, before his election, worked for the climate-denying Galileo Movement. Meanwhile members of the Turnbull government pay lip service to climate science but are still wedded to the coal industry.
Not only are they extolling the virtues of ‘clean coal’ (a technology that doesn’t really exist), they reject the need to phase out coal-fired power, an action deemed imperative by climate scientists, increasingly joined by other Australian industries. Treasurer Scott Morrison recently came into the parliamentary chamber brandishing a lump of coal, taunting Labor and the Greens: “Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared. It’s coal.”
Overseas, new US President Donald Trump had once declared climate change a hoax. He still threatens to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. While Trump has not yet followed through on that particular promise, he is already removing numerous barriers to the exploitation of coal, oil and gas.
As Paul Mason wrote in the Guardian on 21 February, many right wing leaders are wearing their climate scepticism as a badge of honour, not least the head of the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip), Paul Nuttall.
In Holland, winning right winger Geert Wilders election program promises “no more money for development, windmills, art, innovation or broadcasting”. And in France, Marine Le Pen’s Front National, tell voters they must leave the Paris climate agreement because it is “a communist project”.
It might be a joke if it weren’t so serious for the rest of us on the planet. As Mason writes, the progressive side of politics has to get active and elevate climate change to the top issue for society that it is.
By Jenny Goldie and Maria Taylor