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Democratic Challenges in Tackling Climate Change


Democratic Challenges in Tackling Climate Change

Perspectives vol 5



A year after the collapse of the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, former science minister and environmental advocate Barry Jones AO is calling for political leadership to address climate change, in his essay, Democratic Challenges in Tackling Climate Change.

Professor Jones argues that the impact of climate change poses unprecedented challenges not only to the environment but to democratic practice.

He suggests that political failure on climate change in Australia has had three direct consequences: inaction on the issue; political mayhem; and the sacrifice of international influence. Crisis driven policy is a consequence of inaction which in turn heightens risk both of environmental disaster and political upheaval.

Jones says that ‘Public involvement in climate change debate is critical and must be genuine. However, policy and the debate that surrounds policy development needs to be informed and critical: opinion must be distinguished from fact; argument must be supported; and not all opinions carry equal weight in the absence of such support. There are limits to consensus and ultimately decisions will need to be made. Leadership matters.’

Eric Sidoti, Director of the Whitlam Institute says “Barry Jones tackles this vast issue with a remarkable distillation of the science and scientific history of climate change and a direct and vigorous exposition of the political meanderings that risk leaving Australia without any effective response,”.

“The essay is a powerful argument for Australian initiative, that it is not too late to make a difference if only we choose to act.”

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