OPINION

Climate answers can't be ignored anymore

Climate answers can't be ignored anymore

Here in Cairns, our lives are entwined with the famous Great Barrier Reef and the wet tropics rainforest.

And, with an economy and way of life that are so dependent on nature, Cairns has suffered considerably from the dual impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and climate change.

With a projected loss of $2.2 billion tourism dollars, the Cairns community is facing both high unemployment and a housing crisis.

And as city folk who are stuck in lockdown buy up in regional areas, renting and housing is becoming inaccessible.

Simultaneously, our region is experiencing more heatwaves, less rainfall and increasingly severe cyclonic events, which will also continue to worsen as a result of climate change.

However, there is a solution, and it is held in the incredible environments that we call home.

This week, the Queensland government will announce its budget forecast, which will be a crucial decision for our economic recovery.

They should choose to invest public money in initiatives that not only put Queenslanders back to work but also tackle long-term problems and set us up for the future. While the federal government continues to fail us by investing in a dying and polluting industry for a "gas-led recovery", the Queensland government has the opportunity to show what a smart recovery looks like.

Investing in clean jobs creates lasting benefits for all of us, like cheaper electricity, jobs for nature and developing growth innovative green industries.

By investing in renewables, conservation jobs and businesses that have great ideas for the future, we can create jobs and protect people from the worst impacts of climate change; looking after people and the environments that we rely on.

Our response to the previous economic crisis has not protected us.

We must not return to "business-as-usual" solutions, but instead we need to spend public money wisely.

The industries we should be focused on are jobs rich and solve long-term problems like climate change and create resilience in our economy to protect us from future crises.

Lucy Graham is director of the Cairns and Far North Queensland Environment Centre.

  • Our Future is an initiative of the Climate Media Centre and Australian Community Media.
This story Climate answers can't be ignored anymore first appeared on The Canberra Times.