It is as much of a taboo as if we were talking about sex: Who will you be voting for in the election?
Some people keep it a secret, and there can be good reasons for that, in particular when you are in business or in an organisation, or in a radio show which is supposed to be ‘non-partisan’ – allowing everyone to have their own views and keep them private.
But then again, we are in a climate emergency, because things are not going well. 1,800 councils have declared a climate emergency, yet there are still candidates who run on agendas that ignore this unprecedented situation.
Over the last decades, we have seen an entire class of leaders in politics and businesses do as much as they can to delay the transformation of our society into one that respects and lives by the laws of science, including the very inconvenient one that emitting carbon heats up our planet and wrecks its ecosystems and weather-patterns.
The climate breakdown is taking its time to show its true face. The effects of what we do to the atmosphere now will hit us with a 30-year delay, or even later, we are told by the scientists. And in the meanwhile, while global emissions keep going up every year, vested interests use their money and influence to spread confusion among the public and hold any meaningful regulation at bay that would damage their business, as for instance a fee on air pollution or a ‘carbon tax’ would.
Time is running out, and at The Sustainable Hour this time around, in our coverage of the local elections, we decided that in acknowledgement of our Council’s declaration of a global climate emergency, we need to start doing things differently. An emergency changes the name of the game. What this means in a local election is that it is time to vote not only for local issues or issues of convenience, but to vote for those candidates who will be standing for the Earth and who declare they will be putting climate first.
To create clarity about the climate issue, we furthermore call for the city’s many environmentally conscious organisations and leaders to speak out openly about which candidates to support, and why. Just like Greta Thunberg, who says “I never engage in party politics”, has been doing it recently in relation to the American presidential election:
#PutClimateFirst – or The Greens?
In Australia, it has come to a point where, in four councils, we now have an alliance of women who are running as independents on a passionate pledge that if elected, they will, quote, “put climate first in every decision.”
If putting the climate first is what you are passionate about, as is the case among activists such behind Centre for Climate Safety and The Sustainable Hour, we believe the emergence of such an alliance calls for an exception to the general rule that how we vote should be kept a secret or a matter of privacy.
This has caused some heated discussions in local climate activists groups, because it is perceived as a competition against candidates running for The Greens – which currently is Australia’s largest party with a meaningful climate change policy in place and calling for the Australian parliament to declare a climate emergency.
The difference between ‘Climate politics’ and ‘Politics’
The aspiration in the climate action movement to remain ‘politically neutral’ and ‘non-partisan’ during election periods could actually be one of the reasons it has failed so utterly to push through any meaningful change on climate policy-making during the last three decades.
The NGOs and environmental organisations aim to be ‘non-partisan’ primarily due to the fear that their funders and sponsors would pull the funding if they speak out and take a strong stand on specific candidates to vote for.
But this fear of being accused of being ‘partisan’ is not very helpful considering the kind of urgent and radical change which is needed in our city halls and parliaments if we are to have any chance of humanity properly addressing the climate emergency before it is too late.
The climate emergency is not ‘political’, it is ‘politisised’, Craig Foster recently reminded us in an interview recently:
The most nervewrecking drama around the climate emergency is that we are out of time.
The American presidential election delivered an example of what this means: There’s a time to be ‘non-partisan’ and ‘apolitical’ and there’s a time to say: “We are running out of time, folks. There is something we must do now which is more important than protecting our business-as-usual principles of remaining apolitical.”
In the United States this month, the highly respected scientific magazine Nature for the first time in the journal’s 175-year history endorsed a candidate for president of the United States: Joe Biden. Nature joined Scientific American and the New England Journal of Medicine – with its first-ever endorsement in 208 years – in breaking from apolitical norms, citing the president’s war against science as it relates to climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic, and more.
“Trump claims to put ‘America First,’” Nature wrote. “But in his response to the pandemic, Trump has put himself first, not America.” Biden, conversely, “must be given an opportunity to restore trust in truth, in evidence, in science, and in other institutions of democracy.”
This, in our view, is what integrity looks like when confronted with a global emergency brough about due to systemic failures and flaws in our democracy.
Below we will be posting pictures of members of our community, including ourselves, who are prepared to speak up about which candidates, if elected, they believe will make a positive difference when it comes to reducing carbon emissions in our community and society.
Vote life. Vote climate. Vote the difference.
Geelong: Bellarine Ward
Geelong: Kardinia Ward
Geelong: Brownbill Ward
Geelong: Windermere Ward
Greater Torquay Alliance wrote on Facebook:
“Voting in the Council election is now open until 6pm 23rd October and you have probably received your ballot packs in the mail. It is important to vote so your voice is heard and we offer this list of preferred candidates (below) in alphabetical order.
There are 20 candidates in Torquay, Anglesea and Winchelsea wards putting their hands up for 8 spots. The Lorne ward is already decided and Gary Allen is councillor elect. Good on all of them for having a go!
We believe it is a time to mix in a few new faces, new thought processes and a new energy and we have looked for people who will bring a fresh approach to representing our community.
We believe their ideals line up most closely with ours and that they will offer the most support in protection of our towns and coast, better planning principals, respect for coastal community lifestyle and character, and more openness and accountability at council.
Remember to number all your boxes.