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Home Publications What's the story? Nation-building narratives in Australian climate politics
What's the story? Nation-building narratives in Australian climate politics

What's the story? Nation-building narratives in Australian climate politics

David Hetherington and Tim Soutphommasane

20 April 2010


Climate change: the challenge for Australian social democracy

Climate change politics in Australia has become the focus of much attention in the midst of incendiary rhetoric, increasing public disillusionment and a fear that debate is slipping into the partisan and unforgiving arena of the national “culture wars”.

Social democrats can learn from the Australian experience, which underlines the need to move away from cosmopolitan ethics and towards muscular nation-building, build broad coalitions of support and acknowledge that reform will be costly but must still be based on core principals of social justice.

David Hetherington is the founding executive director of Per Capita, a progressive Australian think tank He previously worked at IPPR and L.E.K. Consulting. His articles have appeared in the Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review and the Sunday Age, and he is a regular commentator on ABC Radio National.

Tim Soutphommasane is senior project leader at Per Capita, a research fellow at the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University, and a columnist with the Weekend Australian. He is author of Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Essay series - Climate change: the challenge for social democracy

The urgent challenge of climate change poses a significant test for democratic politics.

New growth models, taxation, energy prices, access to transport, global governance and the implications for social justice are only some of key issues at stake. In the wake of Copenhagen's failure and as public support for dramatic emissions cuts wanes, the progressive reaction must be to sharpen our policy and political arguments in order to create a new, legitimate climate politics.

This new Policy Network essay series aims to shape this debate through informed critique and fresh thinking. Each piece provides a different perspective on how to overcome the present impasse and secure public support for equitable, just and effective climate change policies.

• From shrillness to sobriety: pragmatism in US climate politics (Michael Lind)
 Regrets, they’ve had a few: where now for climate politics? (Jürgen Krönig)
• Needs must: should the environment trump prosperity? (Clive Soley)
• Rethinking climate change strategy for national governments (Stephen Hale)

Other politics of climate change papers

• Democracy, climate change and global governance (David Held & Angus Fane Hervey)
• The politics of climate change: national responses to the challenge of global warming (Anthony Giddens)

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