The Australian Climate Movement

A disparate response to climate change and climate politics in a not so ‘lucky country’

Authored by: Hans Baer

Routledge Handbook of the Climate Change Movement

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415839259
eBook ISBN: 9780203773536
Adobe ISBN: 9781135038878

10.4324/9780203773536.ch10

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Abstract

In frustration at the lack of action on the part of the Liberal-National government under Prime Minister John Howard from 1996 to 2007, around the beginning of the present century a growing number of Australians began to form and join local grass-roots climate action groups (CAGs). These groups have since grown exponentially and now constitute the most significant new social movement in Australian society. Many of these CAGs are linked in complex ways to other organizations, such as established environmental nongovernment organizations (ENGOs), the Australian Greens (a growing political force in parliament), and extra-parliamentary political parties and groups. Many of them have also become affiliated, beginning in early 2008 with various regional climate action networks and in early 2009 with a national climate action network. The Australian climate movement is a dynamic but still disparate movement which consists of two broad layers. The first of these functions primarily within mainstream civil society, though occasionally in parliaments and local councils, includes the Southern Cross Climate Coalition, peak ENGOs (such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Wilderness Society, Climate Action Network Australia), state-based nature conservation societies, and labor unions. The other layer acts primarily at the grass-roots level and generally below the radar of mainstream media and includes regional and local climate action groups, socialist groups, and various special climate groups. Some climate activists have become so angered by the Rudd and Gillard governments’ failures to adopt adequate climate change mitigation strategies that they have embarked upon direct actions at the Newcastle coal port, coal mines, and coal-fired power plants.

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