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Naomi Klein: Tony Abbott Is a Climate Change 'Villain'
In a pair of interviews given ahead of her upcoming visit to Australia, author and activist Naomi Klein branded Prime Minister Tony Abbott as a climate change "villain" and said that Canadians and Australians can relate because they are both run by governments bent on destroying the planet.
Author and activist Naomi Klein will be making her first trip to Australia in 14 years to speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30 before headlining Sydney's Festival of Dangerous Ideas on Sept. 5. Photo credit: Naomiklein.org
Klein will be making her first trip to Australia in 14 years to speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30 before headlining Sydney's Festival of Dangerous Ideas on Sept. 5.
Both the governments of Australia and Canada have been lambasted by environmentalists for being distinctly pro-fossil fuel amid ever-increasing awareness about the dangers of carbon emissions. With the upcoming Canadian elections, Klein says there is hope that things will change in her country. "If that happens, Australia will be isolated as a climate villain," she said.
She added that Abbott's climate record is "particularly shocking" given that "Australia is very much on the frontline of climate change. Also, being a Pacific nation, your closest neighbors are facing a truly existential threat. So I find it even more shocking that Australia is a hotbed of climate denial."
Her comments come just one week after Abbott unveiled his plan to reduce carbon emissions 26-28 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, which many blasted as being insufficient to reach the 2°C warming threshold.
Klein further expanded on this idea in an interview with Australia's Fairfax Media published Monday, providing a glimpse of the themes she expects to touch upon during her speaking trip.
Climate denial, she said, is pervasive in English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, the U.S. and the UK because of a "colonial settler mentality."
"Countries founded on a powerful frontier mentality have this idea of limitless nature than can be endlessly extracted," she said. "Climate change is threatening to that because there are limits and you have to respect those limits. Where that frontier narrative is strongest is where denialism is strongest."
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) August 17, 2015
In her recently published book This Changes Everything, Klein connects the pending climate crisis with the failures of neoliberalism and argues that governments have fundamentally failed to deal with these global issues, leaving it up to grassroots movements to demand real action.
In her interview with Fairfax, Klein spoke to these connections:
The argument that I am making is that we are facing multiple, overlapping crises and they have their roots in the same system, the same logic. We are facing an equality crisis and that inequality very sharply followed racial lines. We have an unemployment crisis. We have a really unstable economic system, that is getting more and more unstable and I think everybody is waiting for the next crash. And the logic that has produced that, the reliance on short term profits above all else, no matter the cost, is the same logic that is producing the climate crisis. So I am arguing that if we want to respond to the climate crisis in a way that actually that produces a more stable system, we have this once in a century opportunity to get at the roots causes of all these crises. These issues are interconnected and if we don't see those connections we are going to produce a much more unequal world in the face of the climate crisis.
Countering the idea that she peddles "dangerous ideas," she replied, "Are they? I think they are safe ... I think Tony Abbott has the real dangerous ideas."
Laughing, she added: "I am all about safety. I am about safety for the people and the planet. I am sorry to disappoint you all with my safety."
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"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›