Naomi Klein has been named 2016 Sydney Peace Prize winner, and used her acceptance speech to call out Australia for its lack of action on climate change.

The award went to Ms Klein for “exposing the structural causes and responsibility for the climate crisis, for inspiring us to stand up locally, nationally and internationally to demand a new agenda for sharing the planet that respects human rights and equality, and for reminding us of the power of authentic democracy to achieve transformative change and justice”.

Ms Klein said it was a “tremendous honour” to receive the award.

“It comes at a time when the impacts of the climate crisis are being acutely felt, from the devastating bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef to the horrific wildfires tearing across my own country. A great many people know in their hearts that now is the time for bold action. Yet political leadership is still lacking — and nowhere more so than in Australia.”

The Sydney Peace Prize is Australia’s international prize for peace, awarded by the Sydney Peace Foundation at the University of Sydney. The prize recognises leading global voices that promote peace, justice and nonviolence. Past winners include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, Arundhati Roy and Professor Noam Chomsky.

Sydney Peace Foundation chair David Hirsch said the award was timely given the current federal election campaign.

“With the election on our doorstep, Klein’s award comes at a time when Australia is at a challenging crossroads”, he said.

“Naomi Klein challenges feelings of powerlessness, apathy and confusion and inspires people to demand a leap towards a society based on caring for each other and for the earth.

“The public is crying out for immediate, serious action – we think that Klein’s message is one that Australians really want and need to hear, especially now.

“This award will help further articulate the need for a justice-based transition from fossil fuels, highlighting policies that dramatically lower emissions while creating huge numbers of jobs and battling systemic inequalities.”

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