We are down but we are not out. We can’t be. Too much is at stake and we are the people in Australia leading at a time when our climate and nature need us.

Many of us are hurting today.

We’ve pushed hard for political leadership on the climate crisis. The Morrison Government has been re-elected – even though it has no plan to deal with the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced.

Climate action was a defining issue in the election – together, we achieved our first goal.

But that did not translate into enough votes in enough places to elect a government with strong climate and environment policies, which was our second goal.

We don’t yet fully understand what happened in this election. There were swings in some places. Some climate deniers were voted out. Strong climate independents got elected.

But the result is complicated and we need to analyse it, ask hard questions, learn and reflect. And then together we must refocus and rebuild, with a firm conviction that standing up for our planet is hard work, but resilience is a renewable resource.

This is a setback for climate action in Australia, but we’ve had setbacks before.

There are bright stars in a dark night sky. And they can help us navigate to a different future.

We are down but we are not out. We can’t be. Too much is at stake and we are the people in Australia leading at a time when our climate and nature need us.

I couldn’t ask to be in this situation with a better group of people. I am so very proud of our ACF community.

If you’ve been active, rest and recharge. We’re going to need you. Take some time to take a breath. Go for a bushwalk. Sit under a tree. Connect with your community. And if you can, join us for an online debrief.

And if you’ve been sitting on the sidelines, now is the time to get involved. Your vote is not enough. Our democracy works when we actively participate in it. We need a whole movement of people, coordinated, passionate, pushing forward together, all over Australia.

I’m so proud of everything you did to make climate a key election issue. Our community were incredible. So generously donating time and money. Making phone calls to voters, knocking on doors, handing out scorecards, writing letters to candidates. So many people getting involved for the first time in their lives. Together, we made climate change the most searched political issue on Google.

You have courageously taken on a goal that was seemingly impossible, and together we got some of the way there. But we will get climate action in Australia. Change takes longer than you think but when it comes it happens faster than you ever imagined.

And many of those young students that are so active on climate change will be voting age in three years.

We are the champions for this planet. Together we are an unstoppable movement, insisting on a survivable future.

A few years ago, Paul Hawken tried to count the number of organisations working for environmental and social justice around the world, and estimated between one and two million. This is the largest movement in the world.

It might not seem like it now, but we are about to enter one of the most important decades in human history.

The solutions to the climate crisis already exist. We just need to ramp them up.

This will be the most creative, transformative decade humanity has ever seen. Simply because it has to be.

In coming weeks, we will convene forums and a survey for the ACF Community to have your say about our climate election campaign, and your ideas and energy for the future.

But this week, take some time to connect, reflect and recharge. 

Then let’s get to work.


Kelly O’Shanassy

CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation.