Talking to Julie Bishop about climate disruption through the language of emojis

On Saturday 22nd August, an eleven strong French delegation brought a taste of Paris to Rokeby Road, Subiaco, with a new strategy for drawing Julie Bishop’s attention to the pressing concern of climate disruption. Julie Bishop is the Member of Parliament for Curtin, and as Australia’s Foreign Minister, she will represent Australia as the lead negotiator at the UN climate talks in Paris in November-December.

Curtin’s CASE (Climate Action for a Safe Environment) has been sharing her electorate’s concerns with Julie Bishop for the last four months: with a petition of 4,500 signatures and letters signed by 1400 people.

The target recently agreed to by the Australian Government is a 26-28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels (a peak emitting year for Australia). At this target, in 2030 Australia’s per capita emissions will be higher than any other western nation and twice as much per capita as Germany and Japan. The government’s target is well below the Climate Change Authority’s recommendation of 45-63% by 2030.

Curtin’s CASE, a climate action group based in the Curtin electorate, decided Julie Bishop might just get the message from her constituents if it was said in emoji. Following an interview in February with Buzzfeed, almost entirely in emoji, Julie Bishop has become famous for her fluency in this international language.

Dressed in French outfits inspired by the Paris conference, CASE supporters invited passers-by to express their feelings about climate change, and about the Government’s emission reduction commitments, by drawing their own emojis on postcards addressed to Ms Bishop. Over 100 emojis were pinned to Julie Bishop’s office wall to express the concern of her constituents.

‘The government’s target is well behind other countries, for example the OECD has a target of 34% below their 2005 levels and the USA of 41% below their 2005 levels by 2030. Australia is the third highest per capita emitter in the world, so we should be doing more than most countries to make up for our long delay in acting on climate disruption’, said Curtin’s CASE convenor, Chilla Bulbeck. ‘The Australian government’s target, if adopted by other countries, would not keep global warming below the 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels to which we and other nations have committed’.

‘Many Australians want stronger action. Surveys undertaken by Curtin’s CASE within the Curtin electorate show that 75% of respondents are concerned ‘a great deal’ about climate change and 20% are ‘somewhat’ concerned. A national Lowy poll found almost two-thirds wanted Australia to take significant action, even if the rest of the world did not. ‘Instead of leading the world, Australia is an embarrassing laggard’ said Chilla Bulbeck.

‘The government is lying about the impact of significantly cutting emissions, claiming it will cost the economy millions, when in fact there will be job and investment opportunities in the booming global renewable energy sector. Thus Climate Change Authority chairman and former Reserve Bank Governor Bernie Fraser says that the Government’s claims that stronger emissions targets will hurt the economy are not founded in fact’, noted Natasha Kepert, who came up with the emoji idea.

‘Basically, we’ve chosen a peak year where we were belching out emissions like nobody’s business (2005, thanks to the mining boom), and we’ve announced a 26% reduction from that amount. It still leaves us per capita as the biggest emitters in the world by far; a commitment so much less than the UK or Europe’, said Natasha Kepert.

If you would like to obtain postcards to draw your own emojis for Julie Bishop, please contact CASE at Curtinscase@gmail.com or download your own postcards: juliebishoppostcardstwopages.