Here's an inconvenient truth. The key reason Australia struggled to get meaningful and sustained action on climate change is because we failed to put the welfare of people at the centre of our policies.
Politicians focused on the benefits of decarbonisation - of which there are many - but tended to ignore the groups of Australians who would be hurt by it.
Politicians talked a big game about the new green jobs that would be created, but presented little evidence that those jobs would be available to the people who would lose their jobs in the transition.
The people who would suffer from the climate transition had legitimate questions.
Would these new green jobs be available in their local communities, or would they have to move?
Do these green jobs use the same skills that they have, or do they need to retrain?
Would those jobs be available when they needed them, or would there be a multi-year gap?
Does a solar farm employ as many people as a coal mine, or will there be mass redundancies?
Would they get support to relocate or retrain, or be left to fend for themselves?
There were no answers given to these questions. And if there was an answer, it was a nervous "yes" from a politician who followed up with suspiciously little evidence to support it.
People noticed. Those who were at risk of losing their jobs in the climate transition had no confidence in what they were being told, and for good reason.
There were no detailed policies on where these people would get new jobs.
Retraining and reskilling programs were patchy and scattered from one jurisdiction to the next and were often significantly underfunded.
The unemployment benefits available to those who lost their jobs were below the poverty line.
Unsurprisingly, this led to a backlash against any action on climate change, including the denial that the problem even existed.
Unscrupulous politicians saw their chance. Some posed for photos dressed-up as coal miners with coal smeared on their face and helped fuelled climate denialism, while others posed for photos next to solar farms and electric vehicles that only the richest Australians could afford.
The rest is history: decades of inaction on climate change ensued.
Today, we have a good set of climate policies in place, with the safeguard mechanism at its core. But it's not enough. More will be required from the government.
And even if the government doesn't do more, the private sector is already moving. Insurance companies are pricing in climate risks. Banks are adjusting their loan portfolios. Property developers are reassessing new developments.
This is a massive transition. Is Australia ready?
Australia's climate policies have improved, but our understanding of how specific businesses, households and individuals will been affected by the transition has not improved by much.
Politicians are still reluctant to talk about job losses and, when they talk about green jobs, they still talk in the abstract. They don't talk about where those jobs will be, who they will employ and how it compares to the expected job losses in specific communities, industries and occupations.
This is not acceptable in the age of Big Data. We can now answer these questions with a significant level of precision. Ignoring these questions might have been understandable during the Howard years, but it isn't during the Albanese years.
New firm-level datasets tell us where businesses are located, what they do and who they employ.
New workforce datasets tell us where people work, in which industry, with what skills and what other jobs are available to them.
New consumer spending datasets tell us what people spend their money on and how they switch in response to changes in price, attitudes or regulations.
Matching these datasets to climate risk datasets tell us which businesses, households and individuals are at the greatest risk, and where governments should be targeting their supports.
There's no reason governments couldn't be doing this to get support to where it is needed. And sadly, these supports have not improved much either.
While the government should be applauded for increasing the JobSeeker unemployment payment, it remains woefully inadequate. Supports for retaining and reskilling workers remain patchy and inadequate across jurisdictions.
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Our understanding and preparedness for the physical risks of climate change isn't much better.
Floods, fire and heat perils will reshape where our homes and businesses are located, where our schools and stadiums are built and how our roads and infrastructure assets connect.
These changes will be brought about by changes in insurance premiums, changes in property prices and changes in interest rates on loans and mortgages - all of which is already happening and all of which will further exacerbate the impact on communities.
We talk about climate change as a global threat, but the reality is that its impacts will disproportionately impact people in particular locations, industries, jobs and income-levels along with a range of cultural and socio-economic impacts to boot.
As the impacts of climate change become increasingly real, our policies to protect the most vulnerable should, too.
- Adam Triggs is a partner at the economics advisory firm Mandala, a visiting fellow at the ANU Crawford School and a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution