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Climate change heating up Australia’s federal election

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Australians are heading to the polls in less than 24 hours to decide their next Prime Minister, with environmental concerns expected to be a decisive issue, the incumbent Liberal party is facing significant swings in historically safe seats

As the campaign nears its final hours the candidates have made their final pitches to Australian voters.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged to change his leadership style, while opposition leader Anthony Albanese has offered his vision for a Labor led government, including the future of the economy and child and aged care services.

Issues such as the economy, cost of living, housing affordability and corruption have been dominating election discussion. But Richie Merzian, a political and environmental expert at the Australian Institute, has told Ticker NEWS he expects global warming to be a decisive issue when voters hit the polls.

He says a big point of difference is how the two parties will “address the climate crisis”, with the Labor Party (ALP) proposing stronger action and greater international engagement on climate change.

Australia votes on climate change

“Polls done in Australia show that climate is one of the top priorities,” Merzian says.

The current Liberal-National government (LNP) under Morrison has received criticism from environmental bodies for its lack of action on climate change.

And Merzian says the government has little ambition to change these targets.

“It’s the same target they’ve had for seven years.” He says.

In 2017, Morrison brought a lump of coal to parliament to demonstrate his support for the fossil fuel industry. PHOTO: Courier Mail

According to Merzian, if all countries set similar targets to Australia, the world would be facing three to four degrees of global warming.

An increase which would be catastrophic for the planet. The goal of the Paris Climate agreement is to limit global warming to below two degrees compared to pre-industrial levels.

Instead of increasing emission targets, the LNP is proposing more investment in technology to help combat the climate crisis.

In contrast the opposition “has a stronger target more in line with the U.S and Canada and Japan,” says Merzian.

“They want to see a serious transition in the electricity sector, they want to have over 80% renewable energy, higher EV uptake, and also they want to see Australia host a U.N climate conference.”

Richie Merzian, Australia Institute

Rise of independents and the battle for Kooyong

The current government is locked in a bitter battle to reclaim power in traditionally safe Liberal seats.

Merzian says safe seats the government “has taken for granted” are suddenly being challenged by centrist independents who want greater action on climate change and anti-corruption.

This challenge has been typified by treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s dwindling popularity in the seat of Kooyong.

Historically a LNP stronghold, Kooyong has been held by a member of the Liberal party for the entirety of its 121 year existence, barring a four year interval in the 1920’s. And has been the electorate for significant party figures such as former PM Sir Robert Menzies.

Dr. Monique Ryan is challenging Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in the seat of Kooyong

But this year, independent candidate Dr. Monique Ryan has emerged as a genuine contender for the seat.

“That’s the real novel part of this election.” Merzian says.

“If they win, you could see the federal government lose seats that I don’t think it’s ever lost, including its own treasurer and deputy of the Liberal Party.”

Richie Merzian, Australia Institute

And while Merzian concedes the election is still too close to call, he believes it will be “very hard” for Morrison’s LNP to win the 76 seats it needs to form a majority government.

“It’s far more likely that the Labor Party will get closer to their mark and you will probably have Anthony Albanese as prime minister on Monday.” He says

Polls suggest this may be the case. But the outlook was similar in 2019 when Morrison defied expectations to win the election.

Bryan Hoadley contributed to this post.

Climate Change

Yellowstone disaster: record rainfall, massive flooding and mudslides

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As Yellowstone National Park celebrates 150 years, emergency crews are scrambling to reopen roads and facilities following heavy rain and huge flooding

This is Yellowstone’s first natural disaster and has forced the region to close during the peak summer period.

Tourists and residents are being evacuated from the area as some roads have been destroyed leaving visitors stranded.

Resulting in a major blow to local tourism operators and surrounding communities. 

Montana, one of the three states the park belongs to, has not seen this type of flooding in more than a century.

The national park’s northern half is expected to remain shut for at least the rest of the season, with Montana’s governor declaring a statewide disaster. 

Record rainfall has triggered epic flooding, mudslides and rockfalls in Yellowstone.

Dangerous rockslides caused the park officials to shut down all five entrances to the park on Tuesday.

It follows one of the wettest springs in years and a sudden spike in summer temperatures, meaning the runoff of snow from the winter months has been quite intense. 

Danaya Malenda contributed to this report.

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Climate Change

U.S. under scorching summer hot-spell

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The U.S. is currently enduring an extreme heatwave, with over 100 million Americans told to stay indoors where possible and avoid the blazing sun

St Louis, Memphis, Minneapolis and Tulsa are all under dire heat warnings, with temperatures reaching 38 degrees coupled with high humidity. 

The National Weather Service says 107 million Americans will be affected by heat advisories and warnings this week alone. 

Beginning in the west and south-west, the heatwave has now moved east into parts of the Gulf coast and will reach as far as the Great Lakes and the Carolinas

In Chicago, officials have started alerting residents about relief centres.

Six community buildings will be opened to aid those who do not have access to suitable air conditioning. 

The city significantly ramped up its heatwave protocols after more than 700 people died in the 1995 heatwave.

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Climate Change

Yellowstone National Park shut due to flooding

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Parts of Yellowstone National Park in the US are underwater after the region was hit by unprecedented rainfall and flooding 

Parts of Yellowstone National Park in the US are underwater after the region was hit by unprecedented rainfall and flooding.

All of the park’s entrances have been slammed shut, with the National Park Service confirming no visitors will be allowed to enter until further notice. 

This is the first time the park has been closed in 34 years.

There are also warnings many roads could be closed for an “extended period of time” due to the rainfall. 

Some parts have already seen substantial flooding, rockslides and mudslides with other areas on the verge of being flooded completely. 

The park’s first priority has been evacuating visitors near the northern loop of the area with the southern loop being evacuated shortly after. 

The National Weather Service has also issued flood warnings for some areas due to what authorities are calling “excessive” rainfall advising campers and hikers to avoid streams or creeks.

Katerina Kostakos contributed to this report.

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