Hundreds of Australian athletes are calling for bolder climate action

It comes as new polling finds the majority of voters in every federal electorate want the federal government to do more to address climate change.

Former Wallaby player David Pocock attends a climate change rally outside Parliament House, in Canberra, Tuesday, February 2, 2021.

Former Wallabies player David Pocock Source: AAP

More than 290 high-profile current and former athletes from 30 sports have signed an open letter that calls on the federal government to take bolder action on climate change.

The letter is part of a new campaign called The Cool Down spearheaded by former Wallabies captain, David Pocock.

Liz Ellis, Mick Fanning, Craig Foster, Cate and Bronte Campbell, Tony Armstrong, and Pat Cummins are among those also involved in the campaign.

In the open letter, the athletes highlight how the increase in extreme weather events caused by climate change threatens the future of sport, including how more intense heat has forced early retirements at the Australian Open and bushfire smoke has caused the cancellations of training and matches.

“Australians have always punched above our weight on the world stage and it’s time to do it on climate,” the letter says.

“To safeguard the games we love for generations to come we must cut our emissions by at least half by 2030 and reach net-zero before 2050.”

Pocock said it is time for Australia to step up its climate ambition and action.

“As athletes, we care about our families, communities and the next generation of Aussie kids coming through,” he said on Twitter.

“We already have the technology we need for a just transition to renewables and building an economy for the future.

“We need courage and leadership from our political leaders.”

The launch of the campaign came as a survey of 15,000 Australians conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Australian Conservation Foundation finds the majority of voters in every federal electorate believe the federal government should be doing more to address climate change.

Support for more action was highest in the Northern Territory, where 71 per cent of voters wanted more to be done to tackle climate change. NSW had the lowest rate with 65 per cent.

School Strike 4 Climate Australia responded to the survey results with outrage.

“Time and time again, these reports show that the Australian public supports climate action - and yet again, the government is failing to listen,” 16-year-old Sam Eccleston said.

“We need climate action, and we need it now.”

The polling also showed more than a quarter of voters rated climate change as the most important issue at the next federal election.

Half of coalition voters want greater action to combat climate change and one in five thought the issue will determine their vote.

Australia has not set a deadline to reach net zero emissions.

The federal government has repeatedly said it indends to get to net zero as soon as possible and preferably by 2050.

Published 30 August 2021 at 10:13am
By Amy Hall