FORMER prime minister Kevin Rudd called it “the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time” but failed to meet the challenge, avoiding the reality of dealing with climate change for political reasons.
However, tackling climate change is something four local climate reality ambassadors are determined to achieve, both by their day-to-day actions in living a sustainable lifestyle and by spreading the word that time is fast running out for governments to act to make a real difference before it is too late.
Former Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor Reade Smith, South East Councils Climate Change Alliance executive officer Greg Hunt (not the federal environment minister and Flinders MP), wildlife conservationist Sarah Beebe and associate nurse manager Sharon Kellett have signed up to join a green army with a difference: the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.
The four attended an extensive training session last month presented by former US vice-president Al Gore in Melbourne.
Mr Gore narrated the 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth which brought the dangers the world faces from climate change to widespread attention. He has dedicated his post-political life to lobbying governments around the world to reduce carbon emissions to tackle climate change.
The four climate reality ambassadors are available to give presentations on how a sustainable future can still be attained by making a global shift from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energies like solar and wind.
Ms Kellett, a 51-year-old mother of three, said she took governments’ inaction on climate change “personally.”
“As a mother I make no apology in taking this very personally,” she said. “If it is the business of future generations, then it is my business too.”
“The training we received with the Climate Reality Project was anything but doomsday. It informed us regarding the many ways that we can address climate change, both as global humanity and as Australians.”
Mr Hunt is less than impressed with ‘the other’ Greg Hunt’s efforts as environment minister in the Abbott government.
He said political compromises had stopped Australia leading the way in replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.
“I’m always a bit disappointed in the lack of action from the federal government,” he said.
He criticised minister Hunt’s direct action policy as “ineffective” and said Australia’s carbon price “which had been working” had been axed for “political reasons”.
“Now it’s gone it’ll take a lot more work to get it back up again.”
Mr Hunt said many Australians tended to have a “parochial view” on climate change and perhaps weren’t aware of the havoc being wrecked elsewhere in the world, such as the floods in Europe, due to the devastating effects of climate change.
He said the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training conducted by Mr Gore was “invaluable” and would help him spread the message that people had to now force their elected representatives to do something to lower harmful carbon emissions.
Mr Smith is no stranger to politics. The Tyabb resident stood against Flinders MP Greg Hunt in the 2010 federal election for Family First and directed preferences to the environment minister.
“I don’t feel good about that anymore,” he told The News.
“As far as I’m concerned, Mr Hunt has shown himself to be more a minister of mining than an environment minister.”
The former Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor said he had always had an interest in combatting climate change and applied to attend Mr Gore’s Melbourne training session to further his knowledge and help spread the message that time is rapidly running out to take positive action.
Mr Smith quit Family First because the party did not recognise climate change was human induced. He will stand as a candidate for the upper house seat of Eastern Victoria for the newly formed Mutual Party at November’s state election.
Organisations can book climate reality ambassadors to present a talk on “the reality of climate change”.
Visit www.climaterealityproject.org to book a presentation.
*This article originally stated Reade Smith would stand as a candidate for the seat of Flinders for the newly formed Mutual Party at November’s state election. He will stand for the upper house seat of Eastern Victoria.