Climate Council researchers map influence of recent floods and fires on swings in key seats

THE CLIMATE COUNCIL has released an analysis of the key seats in the 2022 Federal Election that were affected by disasters in the last term of government, to explore how this might have influenced swings to pro-climate candidates. It makes a compelling case for the connection between climate-concerned Australians and voting behaviour.

Key findings:

  • Climate change is a leading issue in the city and the bush this election, with candidates championing strong climate action proving popular with voters across the country.
  • Voters in electorates hit by climate-fuelled disasters, like the Black Summer bushfires and the 2022 floods, swung away from the Coalition and towards those championing stronger climate action.
  • The Senate is likely to have a climate action-friendly majority with candidates who ran on strong climate platforms performing strongly.
  • The new Australian Parliament has a strong mandate for game-changing climate action.

Quotes attributable to Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie:

“Our analysis considers seats across many parts of Australia that have suffered from catastrophic floods and fires in the previous term of government.

“There have been swings away from the Coalition towards candidates with stronger climate platforms across the majority of seats in the Northern Rivers and Southeastern Queensland affected by the 2022 flooding disaster. It’s a similar story in those seats where communities suffered during Black Summer.

“We’re seeing a very compelling story around how worsening climate disasters and climate risk has influenced big swings to the pro-climate independents, Greens and other candidates strong on climate policy. Millions of Australians have profoundly felt the impacts of climate change over this last term of government. This, combined with some brilliant local campaigning for stronger climate action and many voters having the choice to vote for strong climate champions, has had a remarkable influence on voting behaviour this election.”

Additional comments on the 2022 Federal Election attributable to the Climate Council’s Climate Councillors, as follows:

Professor Lesley Hughes, Distinguished Professor of Biology and the IPCC’s 4th and 5th Assessment Report Lead Author:

“It is a new day for climate policy in Australia. The PM-elect has said that the climate wars are at an end and I truly hope this is the case.

“We have collectively put years of our lives into working for a safer climate for our children and grandchildren and now we find ourselves in a new operating environment – one where we can look forward to working with the government of the day, rather than being constantly at war.

“No one should be so naïve as to think that transformative climate policy in this country will be easy, or quick. The work of the Climate Council is far from over, but today we approach the task with renewed vigour and optimism. Bring it on.”

Dr Kate Charlesworth, public health physician with a PhD in low-carbon healthcare:

“This result is a clear demand for climate action to protect our health, environment and economy. Climate change is supercharging the climate; Australians are now demanding a supercharged response.

“Australians have seen communities devastated by unprecedented flooding, they’ve seen their elderly parents struggle during heatwaves and their kids suffer with asthma during the Black Summer bushfire smoke. They’re seeing that climate change is harming their families and community’s health and they want credible climate action, not the greenwash of the past government.

“Australia is one of the countries on the frontline of climate-health impacts, with illness and deaths from extreme heat, floods, droughts and bushfires. For many Australians, climate action or delay will literally be a matter of life or death. This result clearly shows that Australians have voted for climate action: to protect their health, environment and economy.

“A government’s primary responsibility is to protect the health and safety of its citizens. By failing to act on climate change – the greatest threat to our safety – the Morrison Government has failed to protect Australians and so failed to retain government.”

Professor Hilary Bambrick, Director at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University:

“The last several months have highlighted to us Queenslanders just how vulnerable we are to climate change.

“Around 20,000 homes were inundated in the February-March floods and many people are still living in temporary housing. Much of the damage is yet to be repaired. This super-charged extended La Nina means it is still raining, even as the votes are being counted, in a season that is usually dry.

“For so many of us who have lived through this, it’s clear that being on the receiving end of worsening climate change influenced the vote of Queenslanders who want to see real action on climate that will make a difference. A decade of inaction on climate change has cost Australians lives and livelihoods. This strong swing to the independents and Greens, who campaigned on science-based climate action, shows that Australians will not be hoodwinked by pseudo action and empty promises.”

Nicki Hutley, leading independent economist and former partner with Deloitte Access Economics:

“The people of Australia have cast their votes reflecting their understanding of both the huge economic, social and environmental costs of climate inaction, alongside the tremendous dividends that await from embarking on our transition journey in earnest. As the new Prime Minister has said: the climate wars are over.

“Those already moving on climate initiatives will no longer be doing so with one arm tied behind their back. The road ahead is still a challenging one, but this is a challenge that we can meet with well-designed policy that leaves no one behind, appropriate investment of public and private capital, as well as the urgent task of skills development.

“As we transform Australia from pariah to principal in the fight against climate change, we will reduce the economic risks associated with inaction while creating enormous new opportunities for current and future generations. Increasing our ambition will benefit all Australians and allow us to step up in our role as global citizens.”

Cheryl Durrant, Former Director of Preparedness and Mobilisation, Australian Department of Defence:

“Australians have transformed the political landscape by shedding old ideas and embracing new pathways on climate change, integrity and equality. “From a security perspective the pathways out of our current situation of conflict, growing food insecurity and great power competition also have the potential for new beginnings. Australia can be an emerging energy and bio-capacity superpower.

“This will require a need to abandon the rigid “us and them” thinking that has dominated our national security discourse and approach security from a more flexible and broader perspective, recognising that ecological security is equally important. This challenge is urgent. Our pacific neighbours face existential risks today. Actions, as well as words, are needed now.”

Andrew Stock, Enterprise Professor at the University of Melbourne, and Chair of Advisory Board for the University of Melbourne’s Energy Institute:

“It is encouraging that climate change appears to be a key driver of voter swings. Big increased vote percentages to The Greens and so called teal Independents reflect a dramatic rise in voter numbers dissatisfied with major parties’ positions on this major issue.

“The electorate is also concerned about cost of living and housing affordability. An important way to drive down energy and transport costs for Australians is for the incoming government to focus on increasing the rollout of renewable power, energy storage, and electrifying transport, both public and private, and do it fast.”

Find the Climate Council’s new analysis HERE

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