How can we ‘vote for climate action’?
Updated: May 17, 2022
Climate change is a big concern for voters this federal election.
It topped the list of issues that business owners and managers are concerned about, and data from Vote Compass shows that more Australians reference climate change as their number one issue than any other topic. Understanding which parties and candidates have clear and effective climate action plans can involve navigating through a murky sea of political (mis)information. Unlike for businesses, there are no laws that prevent political parties and candidates from false advertising. So how can we cut through the murkiness to find strong candidates that care about climate and will be effective on climate action? It starts with getting the right info.
No matter where you sit on the political spectrum, we’ve broken down a few basic steps for finding information on parties and local candidates, how to get some of your questions answered and how to cast your vote on election day (or before) in as seamless a way as possible.
Disclaimer: We aren't endorsing any party or candidate over any other. This post is intended as a resource to help you get more informed about the climate policy of Australian candidates & parties (none of which we are affiliated with).
1. Find information on candidates and political parties
Not sure where to begin? It's a good idea to get familiar with the candidates running in your electorate. The Australian Electoral Commission has a useful tool to help with this, just enter your postcode into this link. and you'll get a list of the names of local candidates and the parties they're representing.
Each candidate will detail their policies and goals on their website. Googling their name (and party) will take you straight there. This is a great way to be very informed come Election Day. But, if you're like me and are a bit daunted by the task of googling the names of the well over 80 people that just popped up, I recommend doing two things:
1. Check out pro-climate independent candidates This election, a large number of what are being called 'teal' independent candidates have put their names forward, many of them women. These candidates are independent, in that they aren't affiliated with any of the major parties (Coalition, Labor or Greens). The thing that groups them together is their avid support of strong climate mitigation and adaptation policies. There are several key electorates throughout the country where teal candidates are running. Many are backed by a new non-partisan pro-climate organisation called Climate200, which is providing support and funding to independent pro-climate candidates across the political spectrum. You can see the full list of Climate200 candidates here. Have a look at the list to see whether any are running in your electorate.
You can then tap to visit their respective websites to compare their policy platforms. The theory of change behind backing pro-climate independent candidates is that, if elected, they could help shift the balance of power and thereby ensure that the major parties enact strong climate policies and laws, sort of like an insurance policy. The Greens also serve this function in Parliament but are a decidedly economically and socially progressive party whose other policies won't necessarily appeal to more centrist or conservative-leaning voters.
Independents aren't obligated to vote along party lines like most of the major party candidates, instead deciding each issue on its merits in accordance with the needs and views of their constituents. And they also aren't receiving large political donations from fossil fuel intensive industries, unlike the Liberal party, National party and Labor party, which has historically been a big, problematic issue that has heavily shaped Australian politics and federal policies.
2. Take the Vote Compass survey Vote Compass have a 30 question survey addressing a wide range of political issues & topics that will help gauge how your views and values align with each major party (LNP, ALP, Greens). There are some follow up 'how likely are you to vote for X party' questions that are used for research purposes and are completely optional if you'd like to skip them to get straight to the results.
Vote Compass is an independent, non-partisan group of social researchers and data scientists and is not affiliated with any political organisation or interest group. Note though that Vote Compass excludes the swathe of new pro-climate independent candidates and minor party candidates (since most don't have over 5% nationwide support - even if they've previously won their seat in a specific electorate), which is why we strongly recommend checking pro-climate independent and minor party candidates out separately if they happen to be in your electorate.
With a better understanding of which candidates you're (generally) more aligned with, you can now begin to...
2. Review and narrow down your options
If you are able to at this point, try and narrow down the options to a handful of candidates. What issues are most important to you? Reading through candidates' websites should help you get a sense of their policy platform. Part 3 walks you through how to get direct responses from candidates if you're unclear on their policy platforms. And if you're having trouble assessing their climate policies, the information in this step should help out.
So what does a 'good' climate policy actually look like? The Climate Council offers a helpful guide to get you orientated here.
If you're wondering, the Climate Council are made up of some of the country’s leading climate scientists, energy, health and policy experts.
To summarise, good climate policy:
Reduces Australia's emissions by 75% by 2030
Has clear, specific and easy-to-understand targets to which the party or candidate can be held accountable
Creates a pathway to zero consumption of coal, oil and gas
Addresses deep decarbonisation in all sectors of the economy, including energy, transport, agriculture and industry
Goes into depth with comprehensive plans, not just short 'announceables'
Relies predominantly on proven zero-emissions technology, such as solar energy, or wind energy, rather than relying on as yet unproven technologies (e.g. carbon capture and storage technology for coal-fired power generation)
Ends government support for fossil fuels, including eliminating taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels
Includes climate adaptation strategies as well as mitigation strategies
The ABC also recently reached out to several IPCC contributing scientists to rank the policies of major parties; you can find out more here.
Climate council have also done great work comparing the major parties policies across a broad range of topics, including emissions reductions, transition plans for fossil fuel workers, renewable energy infrastructure, agriculture & land management, transport and more.
3. Get your questions answered
If you're finding it difficult to get the information you need on a particular topic, you can always contact candidates directly to get your questions answered. Contact info is usually listed on their website.
When writing to political candidates, here are a few tips:
If they're a sitting member of parliament, addressing them by their correct title is a respectful way to begin correspondence. Here's a list of official titles if you're unsure what to use.
Keep it brief, objective, polite and as short as possible. Stick to the facts while clearly stating what information you'd like clarity on.
It's a nice touch to be personal with your perspective and queries, let them know who you are and why you're passionate about these topics.
Let them know you're considering voting for them - if they think they can swing your vote, they're more likely to give you a detailed answer.
Let them know how to contact you best so you get an answer quickly.
4. Cast your vote
Ready to cast your vote? Nice! Here's a little extra supporting info for you:
This resource from The Australian Electoral Commission will show you where you can go to vote, as well as how to vote before Election Day if you're planning on early voting. Early voting is a great idea if you'll be outside of your electorate on Election Day or if you want to avoid the crowds.
Also, if you've recently moved house, it's a good idea to double check where you're enrolled to vote with the AEC. Because you'll need to organise a postal vote if you aren't physically in the electorate where you're registered to vote on election day and can't go there to do an early vote. You can organise a postal vote here. Note that the deadline for requesting a postal vote closes 18 May.
If you've voted before, you might have noticed party representatives tend to crowd the area near voting booths handing out flyers or 'How to Vote' cards. These flyers will tell you exactly what order that party wants you to rate your preferences. As a general rule, you shouldn't let people influence your vote on the day, especially if you're well researched and informed. That said, if you find yourself very closely aligned with that candidate/party, it can be a good guide if you're less certain about candidates further down on your preference list.
As a final note, it's worth remembering that under the preferential voting system, no vote is ever wasted. If you find that your views align most with a small or independent party it's always worth putting them as your first preference.