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On World Environment Day, we're racing against climate change

By Ron Clarke and Peter Mullins - posted Thursday, 5 June 2003

Sport and climate.

For many Australians, these are at the core of our identity.

Our stadiums are almost places of worship and our beaches hallowed ground.


Our world champions are a source of great patriotic pride for community, business and government. And our climate gives us the character to be champions - we love our sunburnt country but it makes us work hard to survive.

In 1976, Australia all but went into mourning when our medal tally at the Montreal Olympic Games plummeted to only one silver and four bronze medals - one of our worst ever results.

Australians demanded action and our leaders stepped up to the challenge.

The Fraser government took stock and came up with a comprehensive plan which included the formation of the Australian Institute of Sport, now internationally acknowledged as a model for elite athlete development.

The plan worked! Our medal tally grew until, at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Australia rejoiced in a world-class 16 gold, 25 silver and 17 bronze medals.

If we, as a nation, can put in place an action plan that leads to such success and pride for sport, why can we not do the same for climate change - an issue that so strongly effects our lives, our economy, our environment and our health?


According to world business leaders at the Davos Forum, global climate change - caused by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas - is the greatest challenge facing humanity in the 21st century. And Australia is among the worst greenhouse-gas polluters in the world, even worse per person than the Americans!

In Australia, we will see climate change in more frequent and intense droughts and bushfires, rising sea levels and coral bleaching, endangered wildlife and agricultural and human health impacts.

Scientists tell us that climate change made the recent drought worse, bringing its impact very close to home. You'd think that would be enough to drive a burst of action like that after the Montreal Olympics! And, sure enough, recent polling shows that Australians want, and are prepared to pay for, action to tackle climate change.

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About the Authors

Ron Clarke is a champion Olympic runner and businessman who helped to create Couran Cove, the eco-nature resort on South Stradbroke Island.

Peter Mullins is Chief Executive Officer of Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

Other articles by these Authors

All articles by Ron Clarke
All articles by Peter Mullins
Related Links
Couran Cove
Environment Australia
Greenpeace Australia Pacific
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