The stories that enrage and sustain us.
 
rage \ respite
edition 12
the stories that enrage and sustain us.
rage
How do we reckon with a dual crisis? On Saturday morning, Sydney woke up in a cloud of hazardous smoke. Just outside the city, hundreds of firefighters worked throughout the weekend to facilitate hazard reduction burns in preparation for the coming fire season.

As our air quality dipped into the red and our lungs began to scratch, we were transported back to a time when there was just one aggressive crisis on our doorstep.


Back in the pre-pandemic summer of 2019/20, catastrophic bushfires were the greatest warning sign yet for what life will look like in Australia's own climate crisis. We wore masks to protect us from toxic air, stayed indoors to avoid the raging heat and watched in horror as the situation spiralled out of control every day. As the next 18 months came to pass, we did the same again. But this time for a different, although not entirely disconnected, crisis of our own making.

As governments around the world have focused efforts on responding and adapting to an ever-evolving pandemic, climate action has shifted even further backward on the burner. Record government spending in Australia has been justifiably focused on keeping businesses and families afloat; diverted away from any chance of a just transition to a renewable economy within the decade.

Earlier this month, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their terrifying report of the future that awaits us, those of us in lockdown (at the time, most of the country) were paralysed for what we could do to express our outrage at government inaction. We couldn't take to the streets, we couldn't show up at parliamentary offices (although, bless the rebels in Canberra who did!), we couldn't come together to demand action.

The world faces a critical dilemma: how do we plan and adapt for the long term, when the short term is so taxing?

In a desperate attempt to do something from the confines of my flat, I emailed my federal Liberal MP to plead for climate action. The next day, I emailed him about the crisis in Kabul and heard back within hours. I'm yet to hear back about my calls for climate action.

As the smoke lifted from Sydney, the immediate priority of the pandemic returned. With every global crisis, the Australian government's MO is set in stone: we'll deal with it when it gets here, even if it's too late.
respite
In the face of government distraction and inaction, Australians are taking steps to shift us towards the renewable economy.

Despite the limitations and disruption of the pandemic, Australian households are installing solar power at a record pace. According to CSIRO, Australia has the
highest uptake of solar power in the world and due to our sunny climate, our solar capacity is over eight times the global average. Now, one in four homes across the country run off solar power.

For many, this is a way to reduce their impact on the planet by removing their reliance on fossil fuels; but the vast majority of Australians install solar panels as a way to save money on their energy bills. This is further evidence that generating renewable, sustainable energy is not only good for the planet, but it's good for people and communities.

With this record uptake in mind, it is not surprising to learn that this weekend
solar power out performed coal-fired electricity. For the first time, Australians were using more renewable energy (57%) than dirty power, even if it was only for a few minutes.

From the home to the boardroom, action is happening. This week, 18-year-old Melbourne student and climate activist Ashjayeen Sharif
announced his run to be on the board of Australia's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, AGL. Sharif will be speaking at the AGL general meeting next month where he will demand the company phase out fossil fuels and shift to 100% renewables by 2030. AGL's current, abysmal commitment is net zero by 2050.

AGL was quick to clap back, recommending their shareholders vote down the nomination of Sharif to the board, citing a lack of skill or experience that would benefit the company.

“Even though I’m young and don’t have professional experience in directorships of a company, as Australia’s biggest climate polluter you just need an understanding of what matters in protecting the future for young people,” Sharif said.

Sharif's nomination comes as young people
take the federal government to court, arguing they have a duty of care to protect children from illness and death caused by the climate crisis.

“For the longest time young people have been calling for change and again and again our calls have been disrespected and ridiculed or ignored. But the youth really are rising. We are seeing it.”

ritual
Oftentimes I feel paralysed by the scale of the climate crisis, by the fear of what our future holds and by the rage of the injustice. But it's stories like those in this week's respite that make change feel within reach. The Climate Council have devised a fantastic resource of actions you can take on climate, both in your own life and in advocating government and business for systemic change. "Action is the antidote to despair."- Edward Abbey

This newsletter is created on the stolen lands of the Gadigal and Bidjigal people of the Eora nation. I pay my respects to their elders past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.
I'm Georgia Gibson, a freelance content strategist and writer working with impact-driven clients.
You can visit my website or follow me on Insta for more.

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Clovelly, Clovelly, NSW, 2031, Australia