The polls said this would be Australia’s climate change election, when voters confronted harsh reality and elected leaders who would tackle the problem.
And in some districts, it was true: Tony Abbott, the former prime minister who stymied climate policy for years, lost to an independent who campaigned on the issue. A few other new candidates prioritizing climate change also won.
But over all, Australians shrugged off the warming seas killing the Great Barrier Reef and the extreme drought punishing farmers. On Saturday, in a result that stunned most analysts, they re-elected the conservative coalition that has long resisted plans to sharply cut down on carbon emissions and coal.
What it could mean is that the world’s climate wars — already raging for years — are likely to intensify. Left-leaning candidates elsewhere, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, may learn to avoid making climate a campaign issue, while here in Australia, conservatives face more enraged opponents and a more divided public. [Continue reading…]