Why are Extinction Rebellion making demands of our government? Who do we think we are?

This is a good question. Most activist campaigns have specific goals, such as stopping drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight. However Extinction Rebellion has much a much bigger goal – and one that we all have a stake in – which is a liveable planet.

In this series of posts, we are going to explain what we are aiming for in each demand being made by Extinction Rebellion. The first demand is about telling the truth.

1. That our Government tell the truth about the climate emergency, working with the media to communicate the urgency for change and the necessary responses to individuals, communities and businesses. This requires reversing all policies which undermine effective action for a liveable planet.

We’re not trying to tell you our governments are lying – though sometimes they do! But when it comes to the climate emergency, they are certainly not telling the full truth. They want to avoid talking about the imminent and catastrophic nature of climate change, because they don’t have policies or plans which will make a difference at the scale and timeframe needed. This needs to change.

South Australia has done a bit better than other places. With more than 50% of electricity in this state generated by renewables, we are leading the world in transition to a lower carbon electricity sector. We support the state government in its efforts to build a virtual power plant, through rolling out more battery storage across the state, in private homes and in public buildings. However it is not enough!

While we’re decarbonising our energy sector, we’re not doing well in transport, with most people using carbon-intensive petrol cars for travel, with few incentives to buy an electric vehicle or switch to cycling or public transport.

Similarly, our buildings are not well-designed for a warming world, with most needing much better insulation and shading.

Telling the truth means being honest about whether current government policies overall have any chance of keeping the world’s warming to levels less dangerous. Here’s a hint, they don’t! Even if some policies are good (the giant battery), there are often other policies, such as fuel subsidies, which are doing the opposite. These policies are actively rewarding behaviour which damages our planet’s atmosphere and jeopardises any chance of a habitable world for our children and grandchildren.

One of the simplest ways to reduce our impact is through energy efficiency. This is a win for everyone, because it means better products which use less power while doing as good a job. They usually last longer too. We see this in legislation which requires fridge manufacturers to advertise their star ratings. Government has a key role in setting these bars, and gradually raising them, thus rewarding innovation.

Governments are not being honest about the possibilities for positive change because of their links to corporations that are profiting from the ‘business as usual’ model. Some business are doing the right thing, but so many are not, as evidenced by the campaign of misinformation carried out for many years by Glencore  about its coal business.

The truth is painful, but it will set us free by allowing everyone to decide where they stand for a liveable world.

Yarrow, Media and Messaging, XRSA