“These Things are Beyond Politics”: Climate of the Nation with Matt Kean

Matt Kean, NSW Minister for Energy and Environment joined the Australia Institute to launch their Climate of the Nation 2020 report — the longest continuous survey of community attitudes towards climate change in Australia.

The Australia Institute
4 min readJan 22, 2021
Image via RenewEconomy

In the wake of the devastating Black Summer bushfires, an overwhelming majority of Australians said they are concerned about climate change resulting in more bushfires.

The results of the Australia Institute’s Climate of the Nation 2020 report came as no surprise to NSW Minister for Energy and Environment, Matt Kean, who wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald:

“The release of the Australia Institute’s Climate of the Nation Report 2020 should put an end to the pointless, backward-looking arguments about taking action on climate change.”

Listen to the full conversation with Minister Kean who joined Richie Merzian, director of the Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program, last year to launch Climate of the Nation 2020 >

Now, more than ever, Australia needs evidence-based climate policy

The catastrophic Black Summer bushfires saw Australians experience firsthand the tragic consequences of climate inaction— exactly the sort of events that scientists have been warning about for decades.

That direct experience has only served to intensify concern for climate change and the call for decisive action to decarbonise Australia.

“83% of Australians said they support an orderly transition from coal-fired power stations to renewables, and 71% said Australia can and should become a world leader in finding solutions to climate change,” said Matt Kean, NSW Minister for Energy and Environment.

“Australians can see past the noise, they don’t want Australia to be spectators in the greatest technological transformation of our time — they want their elected representatives to lead.

“There can be plenty of debate about how best to reduce our emissions, but there should be no debate about the fact that we need to do so.

“We need to listen to the experts and need to act on their advice. I mean, this sounds like a relatively uncontroversial idea, but when it comes to climate change, apparently it is. It’s a strategy that has served us well during the coronavirus pandemic and it’s the right approach to take when dealing with climate change as well.

“Australians are sick and tired of the petty political point-scoring and division on climate policy which has held our country back for more than a decade.”

The quantitative survey for this report was conducted in July 2020 and the qualitative research in September 2020, smack bang in the middle of a fight to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Kean reflects that this should act as a final rebuke to the cynical view that concern about climate change was a ‘good times’ issue because these are among the toughest times our country and people have ever faced.

COVID-19 has upended financial markets, stalled investment, increased unemployment, and driven some sectors of the economy close to the brink.

“Australia should be using this recovery to build a low carbon economy. We should be using this recovery to drive a sustainable stimulus. We should be using this recovery to build our country back better. Not just because it’s good for our environment, but because it’s good for the state, the country, and it’s the kind of economy our kids are going to be able to prosper from,” said Minister Kean.

“What could be more conservative than protecting & handing our environment to the next generation, better than we found it?”

It’s not “climate alarmism” — it’s economically rational

I’m arguing this because I want to see great high-paying jobs, I want to see investment and infrastructure, I’m arguing these things because I’m economically rational. I’m not some guy that goes out protesting in the streets,” said Minister Kean.

“I’m not trying to dismantle the capitalist system. I’m trying to enhance it and grow it. So that’s where I’m arguing this case from in my party, the Liberal Party. And for Australians that care about this issue, I think that the road to success here is explaining how action on climate change can be done in a way that grows our economy, grows our living standards, and leaves no one behind.

“That’s exactly what I’m trying to do at the moment, as the Minister for Energy and Environment for New South Wales. I’ll work with any jurisdiction, any think-tank, that wants to join us in helping ensure that we create new jobs, drive investment into our economy, grow our living standards and prosperity, and set Australia up to be an energy and economic superpower in a low-carbon global economy,” said Minister Kean.

Listen to the full conversation with Matt Kean, NSW Minister for Energy and Environment, in the Australia Institute’s Follow the Money summer special series — where we bring you some of our favourite webinar guests of 2020.

The full webinar is available on the Australia Institute’s YouTube channel here, which was recorded live on Oct 28, 2020.

Subscribe to the Australia Institute’s podcast series Follow The Money on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on the Australia Institute’s website.