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  • Writer's pictureDoug Hull

Politicians are people too... mostly

It's easy to demonise politicians. Even the best, most respected leaders make decisions that upset some people. We all know that it is absolutely impossible to please everybody all the time, yet we still love to hate politicians.

As a good friend of mine, now a professional politician, once told me "Politics is a popularity contest". One difference between a politician and a normal human is that politicians (in democratic countries anyway) have to re-apply for their jobs every 4-5 years. They have to represent their constituents and keep enough of them happy, not to mention their coalition partners and party colleagues, so that they get another contract. And if enough of those people don't want to get rid of coal fired power plants, then climate action is difficult. Perhaps I am overly optimistic, but I do believe that most of our current world leaders genuinely care about solving the climate problem. Unfortunately they care more about keeping voters and coalition partners happy, so they can keep their house of cards intact for a while longer.

In Australia for example, the ruling party is a coalition of the Liberal and National parties. The National Party make up a small part of the coalition, yet without them the Liberals are doomed to lose at the next election. The Nationals are aggressively opposed to any move away from fossil fuels (even going as far as stating that wind farms don't work at night!), which means the PM, Scott Morrison, is really quite hamstrung with what he can achieve. Perhaps Scott Morrison isn't the best example of a climate change leader given his track record (including his famous quote 'Electric Vehicles will end the weekend'), still one does feel that he and his party are being held back by their bed-fellows.

What about Joe Biden - he swaggers around talking the talk on the international stage, but back home he faces a never-ending battle to affect any meaningful change. And if he loses enough support then the 'Red Team' gets to come in and wipe the slate clean again in the next 4 year presidential term. At least Biden pitched up to COP26 - Putin and Xi didn't even arrive. Not the greatest show of support from two of the biggest economic heavyweights and carbon farting countries around!

This quote sums up some of the biggest current political challenges facing the G20 nations: "The US is hamstrung by Congress... Germany doesn’t yet have a government; France is facing one of its most uncertain elections; the UK, via its treasury, has just embarked on fiscal austerity; the Japanese government is only two weeks old, and Canada’s is not much older." (Source: Politico).

Then there is the scourge of political lobbying - where wealthy industries spend large amounts of money to manipulate decisions made by those in power. No prizes for guessing where the fossil fuel giants are spending their spare cash these days! In fact GreenPeace has reported that "the world’s five biggest publicly-traded oil and gas companies – and their lobby associations, currently employ 200 lobbyists in Brussels", and have spent over €250m on their cause.

It all seemingly adds up to one big mess, and the mountain to climb is steep...yet despite all of this, we should acknowledge that there has been at least some progress at the recent COP26 conference. Most countries and world leaders are now roughly aligned, and some of the more stubborn nations are now agreeing to targets and actions for the first time. Yes there are nations protecting their own national interests and fossil fuel based economies - and sadly that is to be expected - but even the most conservative (my adopted country of Australia being right up there) are starting to get onboard. The next few years are going to be crucial to the survival of our species - if the 'good' leaders (yes there are some) can take bold plans from COP26 back to their respective electorates and gain support, then we may see the required momentum building up. If they get shot down in flames by narrow minded constituents and opposition, then we are in trouble. So the solution lies in the hands of the voters. Thats you, dear reader.

Until next time!


aka The Regeneralist

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