Federal Election 2019: Meet Independents for Climate Action Now


Website: https://i-c-a-n.com.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ICANAusPol/
Australia’s Climate Party
Themes: Climate change is an emergency, and immediate action is required.  Single issue coalition of independents,
Upper House: NSW, QLD, VIC
Preferences: So far, ICAN has only provided a How to Vote Card for NSW, and it is endearing, but not illuminating:

Remember you must number 1-6 above the line, or 1-12 below the line.  Please consider preferencing parties with Strong Climate policies.

Policies & Commentary

Independents for Climate Action Now have a cheerful, slightly cheesy website, with their bright sunburst icon overlaid on a background of wind turbines, solar panels, and a green field with a river running through it.

Can I vote for a party that will deliver effective, scientific, evidence-based policy to deal with the Climate Emergency?

they ask, before answering in very large, bold letters


Which also happens to be their party abbreviation!  They are so pleased with themselves!

They tell us that Independents for Climate Action is a party of allied independents who want to see Climate Action Now.  ‘Enough is enough. We want a future for our kids.’  We are also reminded that ‘Bad things happen when good people sit back and do nothing.  Join us!’

All this breezy enthusiasm is enough to make me cynical.  They do love their exclamation marks!

They then go on to explain about the climate emergency.  We are informed that the threat posed by climate change is ‘an existential threat’.

That is a threat that could annihilate most people on earth. This threat could be realised within the lifetime of a child born today if we do not take immediate emergency-based action to cease carbon emissions and draw down atmospheric carbon stocks to keep global warming below 2 degrees. The IPCC assessment is that we have 12 years at most to achieve this turn around.

We are informed that slow changes are not going to be enough at this point, and are indeed a threat in themselves, if we perceive ourselves as doing enough.

They point out the dangers of denial, and then point out that the carbon tax did, in fact work, until we removed it (with a handy graph, reproduced below).

(Incidentally, I’ve barely got past the first page, and it’s already noticeable that the words ‘science’ ‘scientists’ and ‘evidence’ are everywhere.  This is a party that wants you to focus on facts, on evidence, on the science, the science, the science. )

Their candidates are an interesting group.  The most notable is Father Rod Bower, of the Anglican Parish of Gosford who is known for his provocative and political church signs in support of refugees, marriage equality, and the climate.  Frankly, I’d vote for him in a heartbeat, and his presence in this party is a definite endorsement.

Other candidates include Jim Tait, an environmental consultant who specialises in freshwater ecosystems; Annette Schnider, a farmer, author and activist who is passionate about the environment, animals and people; Paul Wittwer, an economist who has been involved in employment and economic development in regional towns; and Dr Andy Lewis, a marine scientist.

One thing I find particularly interesting about this collection of candidates, incidentally, is that almost all of them have lived and worked for much of their lives in rural or regional Australia.  These are not your inner-city-latte-sipping Greens who are traditionally viewed as not understanding the needs of farmers, and that’s almost a revolution in itself.

ICAN’s about page provides answers to a few pertinent questions.  They link to the IPCC report on climate change, as well as reports from the Bureau of Meteorology and NASA, for those who want to look at the evidence themselves.  They explain that their goal is to raise the profile of the climate emergency as part of the crossbench.  In answer to the question of why support them rather than the Greens, they point out that while the Greens have good policies, there are some people who are just never going to vote for them because of their other policies.  ICAN doesn’t have other policies, so…

I admit, I’m not entirely sold on this argument, because I like parties to have a full suite of policies (except when I am having to write about them).  ICAN tells us that on non-climate matters, their representatives will act as Independents, who seek to represent their electorates fairly.  However, under the principles of the party (they don’t know how to spell principles), they are committed to evidence-based policy.

And what are these policies, I hear you ask?

Well, they start with a preamble, called, ‘Emergency based climate policy’, which reminds us about the science and about that existential threat I told you about a few paragraphs up from here.  (I sound like I’m taking this lightly, but I don’t.  Climate change is terrifying.)

Considering the value of what is threatened by climate change (human society and the biosphere), the scale of action required to respond to the threat and the rate at which the response must be delivered to avert disaster, the situation cannot be considered anything less than an emergency. To deal with an emergency requires emergency planning. ICAN’s policies aim to provide a response to the climate emergency and enable a viable path to be defined through the climate crisis for Australia as part of broader global efforts.

They then introduce seven policies to support this, the first of which is ‘National Climate Emergency Response Planning’.  Basically, they point out that we do need to start taking this seriously from a planning perspective, and set up structures like dedicated organisations, budgetary commitments, etc.  They propose targets of 50% emissions by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050, and want to establish an enhanced and extended Independent Climate Council, to provide scientific advice; a CLimate Emergency Response Commission, to establish ‘interim and longer-term legally binding targets for climate change abatement, adaptation and resilience including Renewable Energy Targets and sector emission reductions’; and a Climate Emergency Planning Implementation Authority, to provide oversight, legal and financial support for implementing target commitments.

The goals are fourfold:

  1. Global restoration of a safe climate
  2. Prevent ecological, social and economic breakdown driven by climate change
  3. Minimise the negative impacts of climate change on the Commonwealth of Australia
  4. Contribute effectively to global efforts to minimise the negative impacts of climate change on the climate vulnerable

From an organisational perspective, this sounds like pretty good policy to me, and I like that it takes into effect the social and economic impacts of climate change.

Policy 2 is 100% Renewable Energy Transition.  Steps here include restoring a carbon price, investment in the electricity transmission network, and development of Australian Renewable Energy Zones ‘which provide opportunity for economies of scale and community benefits through targeted regional investment and employment.’

They want to make home battery storage more affordable, and develop larger scale storage projects.  They will maintain support for rooftop solar and storage, and require solar power in all suitable new homes.

ICAN also wants to extend the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Clean Energy Finance Corporations, to encourage innovation in renewables, and they want to support skills development to support a clean energy industry.  They also want to establish a battery manufacturing and recycling industry.

Policy 3 is Managed Phase Out of the Fossil Fuel Industry, which is pretty straightforward – no more government funding for fossil fuels, and no new mines, etc.  But they also recognise ‘the need for alternative and substitute sources of industrial activity to replace Australia’s export fossil fuel industry’s contributions to the economy’, and will require the government to develop a clean energy strategy, including a renewable energy powered manufacturing sector.  They also want to fund a program to transition fossil fuel industry workers into jobs in the renewable energy industry. ‘This program will address skills retraining, translocation of workforces, the establishment and location of new industries and affirmative employment actions.’

The Latrobe Valley thanks you, and hopes you will see this one through.

Policy 4 is about ‘Natural Resource and Ecosystem Management for Carbon Sequestration’, and is about looking after our existing ecosystems, and rehabilitating them to ‘deliver carbon sequestration, climate impact resilience and biodiversity dividends.’  This will include securing a permanent National Indigenous Ranger Program (a nice social justice touch, and a useful one), and a Reafforestation Authority.

With two marine scientists on board, the oceans are not forgotten, and ICAN wants funding for R&D by the CSIRO to develop a program on Blue Carbon SEquestration and investment in a managed succession program for coastal ecosystems inundated by rising sea levels.

Policy 5, ‘Investment in Science and Technology to Implement Carbon Drawdown’, is what it says on the box.

Policies 6 and 7 deal with the social impacts of both climate change and going zero emissions.

Creating a Beyond Zero Emissions Society is about reducing our footprint on a lot of different levels.  It includes things like supporting electric vehicle uptakes, better public transport, sustainable aviation, research into the hydrogen industry, town planning and building standards, a carbon cost labelling scheme, and ‘a National Sustainable Population Policy that remains cognisant of the economic contributions of immigration and our humanitarian commitment to refugee re-settlement while seeking to stabilise the resource demands and associated carbon footprint of Australia’s population.’

(Note the bit about refugee re-settlement – I detect Fr Bower’s hand in this policy).

Finally, policy 7 is about Planned Adaptation for Unavoidable Climate Impacts, and it starts off rather grimly:

This policy area recognises that despite whatever efforts are implemented to mitigate climate change impacts, many will still be realised well into the future due to ‘locked in’ impacts associated with climate system response lag time to current emissions and atmospheric carbon levels. As already being experienced in Australia and globally these impacts include extreme weather events, floods, droughts, cyclones, storms, extended and higher risk fire seasons, coastal erosion and sea level rise. To cope with an increasing frequency and/or severity of these impacts, society will need to respond with a mix of policy commitments covering everything from building and town planning standards, structural protection of high value assets, public shelters and infrastructure, emergency response services, and enhanced water, food and energy security. Some of these issues will fall more within the jurisdiction of state and local governments but policies at a Federal level will need to be delivered to facilitate and support these outcomes. 

ICAN talks about a National Emergency Response Service, and more support for emergency planning.  They want an independent authority to advise on water allocation planning for environment and consumption.  National heat wave planning and response will be important, as well as fire regime monitoring and management.  They are also concerned about food security, and the mental health impact of all of this.

And that’s it.  I’ll be honest – over the last few months I’ve been beginning to think that climate action has to be my top issue in politics now.  My heart is all about refugees, and I find climate hard to relate to as an issue – but we are reaching the point, I think, where if we don’t do something about climate, there just won’t be anywhere left where anyone can live, refugee or otherwise.  So I find this party pretty compelling.  Their policies clearly take scientific, social and economic factors into account, and they are practical and very thorough.  And also scary, because climate change is scary.

I don’t know if ICAN will get the top billing on my ballot – I do prefer a party with policies in more than one area – but they make some pretty strong arguments for voting for them.  We shall see.


Eurovision Theme Song as determined by me, very objectively

I have to admit, I don’t love this song – power ballads just aren’t my thing.  But I couldn’t go past these lyrics.
The message is so true
The end is really near
All these feelings take me down
It steals the things so dear
Yes, the message is so real.
Don’t turn all the earth to stone
Because, because, because
This is your home.

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