'Poke the bear': Aussie comic's $150k climate message hits NYC

·News and Video Producer
·3-min read

Billboards featuring burning kangaroos and warnings about koala extinction will be erected around the world, after an Aussie comedian crowd-funded thousands of dollars to shame the federal government over its record on climate change.

The campaign was devised by podcast host Dan Ilic who initially sought to fund just two satirical billboards in Glasgow during the COP26 climate talks early next month.

His target of $12,000 was quickly smashed as his 'JokeKeeper' project went viral, and over $151,000 came flooding in, allowing him to extend his message further.

Aussie comedian Dan Ilic spoke has raised money to highlight the federal government's climate record in New York City. Source: Getty / Brisbane artist Nordacious (James Hillier)
Aussie comedian Dan Ilic spoke has raised money to highlight the federal government's climate record in New York City. Source: Getty / Brisbane artist Nordacious (James Hillier)

“I see my role in a comedy sense to mock, to vilify, to poke the bear, to tell the people in charge that we are not happy with them,” he told Yahoo News.

“And boy, we are not happy with them.”

Plea to New York: 'Please don't blame Australians'

Tonight the government will be “mocked” on one of the world’s largest stages, with his messages set to be splashed on the 12 metre high “Godzilla” billboard in Times Square, New York.

At 6:45pm (local time), a 22 second loop of messages will be played, with one joking that Australia plans to commit to net zero emissions by 2300, not by 2050 as most other developed nations have.

Crucially, most countries have accepted a more aggressive emissions reduction target by 2030. Australia has not. 

“The idea was to tell the international community that hey, Australians aren't with the Australian Government,” he told Yahoo News.

“The Australian Government does not represent Australians, so please don't blame Australians, blame our ridiculous fossil fuel-funded government.”

Black Summer wake up call for Aussies about climate change

Following the unprecedented Black Summer bushfires last year, Mr Ilic has begun to see growing concern among Australians about the impact of climate change.

“There was a real point when Australians honestly started to go, 'holy sh**, this is a really f***** big deal',” he said.

“That was a catalytic moment for every Australian who is living in this country just to see the entire country in flames.

“That’s not an outlying event, that's going to happen again, it's going to happen more often… and it's going to be bigger next time.”

With Greece, Turkey and Siberia all being impacted by more severe fires this Northern Hemisphere summer, Mr Ilic is clearly frustrated that there are still people denying the existence of climate change.

Australia’s government, he argues, could be doing much more to cut emissions, noting they have “the money and the tools” as well as “the carrots and the sticks” to encourage change and reach net zero by 2050.

Call for action on climate change next election

Mr Ilic argues Australia must be on a “war footing” to “radically transform our economy” and rapidly move away from fossil fuels.

He hopes his campaign will “get Australians on board” and encourage them to think about the climate crisis at the next election.

Billboards are already up in Torquay and Horsham. Source: Dan Ilic
Billboards are already up in Torquay and Horsham. Source: Dan Ilic

“We have the most important election coming up, possibly in the world… and this is not hyperbole at all,” he said.

“This next election will determine just how many more gigatons of carbon get dug up, burnt, and put into the atmosphere all around the world.

“Because Australia is the third largest purveyor of fossil fuels, and sadly, that needs to stop very soon if we are to have any kind of quality of life in the next 100 years.”

Australians interested in seeing Mr Ilic’s billboards can view them on Victorian towns of Horsham and Torquay, with two more to be erected on October 25 in the electorates of Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

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