Talking Climate Action with Parliamentarians

Campaigning for change, Food & climate change article written on the 02 Jun 2011

Image courtesy Aaron Kelly

Not that far from the Oxfam Brisbane office there’s a well known sculpture – close to the river at New Farm Park. In the surreal week that was the Brisbane River floods earlier this year, the photo taken at dawn as waters peaked, gives a sense of that strange and eerie time. Seeing rising river waters break their banks and swirl around the chunky metal letters meant that no longer was it just a visual trick – an art installation built to look like it was half submerged. The famous “Flood’’ word was itself being flooded.

Things were a bit quieter – and floodwaters certainly nowhere to be seen – back at the same location this week for a different take on rising waters.

Oxfam supporters met Queensland Senator Claire Moore to talk about the need for Australia’s Government to act on climate change – and its importance, not only so Australians can make the shift to a low carbon economy – but so our Pacific Island neighbours also receive the support they need to adapt to impacts they are already facing and to develop along low carbon pathways.

The riverside meeting provided the chance to present Senator Moore with Oxfam’s recently updated publication “Getting Smart on Climate Change” – as well as introducing her to images from the striking “Land is Life” photographic exhibition portraying the impact of rising seas on the livelihoods of Pacific Island peoples of Kiribati and Tuvalu.

It was also a chance to highlight the many voices calling for a price on pollution to help push down Australia’s (highest in the world per capita) greenhouse gas emissions – and crucially, for portions of that price to be invested in renewable energy and into ensuring that some of the poorest people in the world are also supported to develop sustainable communities, livelihoods and economies.

Then it was over to Brisbane’s southside to meet Moreton MP Graham Perrett, to bring similar messages to another of our elected representatives.

Mr Perrett said he thought it was important to highlight the risks associated with not cutting emissions and to emphasise the benefits of changing away from our current course; recognising that delaying action only increases uncertainties and costs, and reduces our opportunities for constructive changes. He also encouraged supporters of climate action to phone talkback radio so that their voices could be heard, noting also: “It’s hard to find a scientist who says we’re doing enough”.

In the coming week we’re hoping to have a similar meeting with Brisbane MP and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Teresa Gambaro. We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime – take action and write to your MP – and come join us at the Yes to Action on Climate rallies on June 5. Click here for details on both.