An Australian climate change lobby group has faced a backlash after creating a billboard advert comparing coal miners to paedophiles. The ad was one of a number of possible images posted onto the Facebook page of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition as part of a competition to choose a poster to be displayed at Brisbane airport next month when world leaders fly in to meet for the G20 Summit, but was pulled from the site after followers branded the advert as “sick”.
The poster featured a note reading “Dear world leaders, don’t let the coal lobby get their dirty hands on our future. Yours sincerely, young people and future generations”. Next to the note is the face of a young girl looking alarmed with a man’s hands, dirty with coal dust, clamped over her mouth.
The poster immediately came under fire. One twitter user commented “This is sick! comparing paedophilia with hardworking coal mining Australians,” the Daily Mail has reported. Others posted negative comments on the AYCC’s facebook page, and the Liberal backbencher George Christensen laid into the AYCC, branding them “environutbags”.
The furore prompted the AYCC to remove the poster from the competition, writing on its Facebook page “We have removed an entry from the competition after concerns were raised about the content.”
Nonetheless, the group continues to lobby Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to put climate change on the agenda at the G20 next month, when guests including Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin will discuss a range of global topics. Abbott has so far declined, insisting that a discussion on climate change would be better served at a separate international forum.
This is not the first time that environmental lobbyists have stooped to smearing their opponents as degenerates. In 2010, climate lobby group 10:10 commissioned film maker Richard Curtis to make a short video. The film manages to be both violent towards climate change ‘deniers’ and snobbish: it features the middle class Jemima and her school friends who doing their bit to cut carbon emissions, whilst fellow working class students Philip and Tracey refuse. Tracey and Philip then get blown up. Unsurprisingly the video drew sharp criticism, but 10:10’s founder Franny Armstrong couldn’t see what the problem was.
“Doing nothing about climate change is still a fairly common affliction, even in this day and age. What to do with those people, who are together threatening everybody’s existence on this planet? Clearly we don’t really think they should be blown up, that’s just a joke for the mini-movie, but maybe a little amputating would be a good place to start?” she said.