Robert Glasser on Australia’s climate shift – The Diplomat


The Australian Labor Party is politically well positioned to pursue an ambitious climate agenda.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attends the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on Tuesday 15 November 2022.

Credit: AP Photo/Dita Alangkara, PoolAdvertisement

In recent years, Australians have inevitably come to realize the costs and impacts of climate change. In the summer of 2019-2020, the country experienced one of its worst bushfire seasons and in 2021-2022 devastating floods made headlines. In an editorial earlier this year supporting the Labor Party’s bid for government, The Age wrote that “a change of government is required to begin restoring the integrity of federal policy and … to address the challenge of climate change”.

Indeed, in the Australian federal elections in May 2022, the incumbent Liberal-National coalition – then led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison – failed to win a fourth consecutive term. Instead, the Labor Party led by Anthony Albanese achieved a majority government for the first time since 2007. Across Australia, voters have turned away from the Liberal Party coalition in favor of Labour, or “blue-green independents” for whom climate change is a critical issue.

Months later, the Labor government maneuvered Australia to become a more responsible world power when it comes to climate change. The road ahead is not easy, especially given Australia’s significant coal industry. But like Dr. As Robert Glasser explains in the following interview, Labor is politically well positioned to pursue an ambitious climate agenda.

Glasser, head of the Climate and Security Policy Center at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, spoke to The Diplomat’s Cathrine Putz about the role of climate change in Australia’s modern politics.

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How did climate change impact the Australian general election in May?

Climate change had a huge impact on Australia’s general election. In fact, it has been dubbed the “climate election” by many. Labor fought on a platform for more ambitious climate action and this was a major factor in the backlash against Scott Morrison’s Conservative coalition.

The changes in rhetoric and action on climate change since Labor won the election have been striking. The government has enshrined in law a more ambitious climate target – reducing greenhouse gases by 43 percent by 2030. It prepared the country’s first climate and security risk assessment and initiated an intergovernmental process to develop a comprehensive strategy to strengthen national resilience to climate impacts.