The mighty Moke is back for a 21st C spin
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Australia’s pathetic climate propaganda fail

DundeeDESIRĖ VÉRITÉ

CANBERRA – Papua New Guineans have woken up to Australia’s climate change propaganda.

They not only resent its blatant dishonesty, they’re angry Australia is trying to play them for fools.

And they are tuning out from sugar-coated Australian government climate change propaganda that aims to mislead ahead of next week’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Papua New Guineans are backed by Prince Charles, Sir David Attenborough, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres and Joe Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry - among hundreds of eminent people who say COP26 is the world's 'last chance' to avoid runaway climate change.

And even though Australia’s federal government yesterday agreed to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, much of the rest of the world understands that net zero by 2030 is what is required to avoid a climate disaster.

But for many of Australia’s conservative politicians, even net zero by 2050 is way over the top.

Australia is the world’s eighth worst carbon emitter per person (we’re tied with Canada) and the Morrison government is using its official PNG mouthpiece to share information about its activities to support adaptation and resilience to a changing climate in PNG and the Pacific.

However, PNG and other Pacific Island countries are well aware that Australia talks the talk without walking the walk.

So the Australian High Commission’s ‘look what we’re doing’ campaign has been frostily received since it began in mid-October.

On Facebook, each vignette has barely registered 20 positive engagements from more than 90,000 followers.

And on Twitter, where high commissioner Jon Philp has about 7,200 followers, a ‘look at us research’ tweet on Sunday received no response at all and a ‘look at us renewables’ tweet yesterday did no better.

An earlier tweet on Saturday about how Australia is paying for the PNG delegation’s trip to Glasgow did better (68 likes and 20 retweets), but only after Keith Jackson had drawn attention to it in a tweet of his own, that has reached nearly 8,000 people so far.

“The ill-equipped Australian delegation has nothing to offer & is set to embarrass us much. The Pacific islands need real action not fakery,” wrote Jackson, and followed up yesterday with a commentary on Australia’s “lamentable performance”.

The abysmal social media response to Mr Philp and the accompanying irritation amongst Papua New Guineans about what is seen as Australia’s hypocritical utterings on climate action are unsurprising.

The impacts of climate change have been a reality in PNG for more than a decade, and Australia has mostly spent that time digging up coal, sucking up gas and burying its head in the sand.

In 2003 – just six years after Australia refused to ratify the Kyoto emissions protocol – the PNG government authorised the evacuation of the Carteret Islands north-east of Bougainville because of sea inundation.

The subsequent relocation efforts earned the Carteret Islanders an unenviable moniker – “the world’s first climate change refugees”.

Although some people decided to remain on the atoll, the exodus of others exemplifies the grim future facing substantial populations on the many low-lying islands of the Pacific.

Australia showed a brief spurt of progress when it ratified the Kyoto protocol in 2007 under the leadership of prime minister Kevin Rudd, who went on to propose a visionary emissions trading scheme.

This scheme would have created a market for carbon with associated carrots and sticks to encourage for polluters to do the right thing and reduce their emissions.

But it was ultimately a non-starter as the conservative opposition successfully opposed it, enabled by Greens Party senators, who under the misapprehension they were tactical geniuses deliberately sank the legislation in a mind-boggling display of self-harm.

While Australia’s emissions have reduced over the last 10 years or so (State government action and citizens own significant adoption of solar being the key movers), the current rate of emissions reduction is too slow to align with efforts to prevent catastrophic global warming.

In 2018, Australia’s emissions were more than 15 metric tons per person, while PNG’s were less than 0.9 metric tons – 17 times less.

This kind of inequity, along with Australia’s willingness to spin, cheat and bluff, will be front of mind for Gary Juffa, Wera Mori, Powes Parkop and the rest of the PNG COP26 delegation when they run into Scott Morrison in Glasgow.

They will address the Australian prime minister with Melanesian respect and politeness but their message will be unmistakable.

Knowing that Australia is better at announcing than delivering, they will also be sceptical of its ability to deliver on the inadequate 2050 zero target, which it grudgingly adopted – but with no plan on how to achieve even this derisory goal - just days before the conference after years of inaction and denial.

Australia’s propaganda is hypocritical, it is disingenuous and it is cynical, but what is more galling to Papua New Guineans is that some geniuses in the Australian government think that Papua New Guineans will buy it.

They can sugarcoat the turd all they want, but, as we say in my birthplace, ’Une merde est toujours une merde’.

Or in a land whose people I admire a great deal, ‘Pekpek oltaim oltaim istap pekpek’.

Comments

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Lindsay F Bond

Front page from G20 Summit 2021, Rome, is Australia's prime minister reported as saying, "Technology will provide the answer to climate change in the same way smartphones and Covid vaccines changed the world."

See: https://www.smh.com.au/

Then, too, reports that "world leaders look to soften targets".

This comes after Angus Taylor, Australia's industry, energy and emissions reduction minister, told ABC-TV Insiders on Sunday that more will need to be spent beyond 2030 to reach the target.

But the Coalition 'plan' is to run nine years (which means a couple of election cycles).

Labor's climate change spokesman Chris Bowen said in Sydney" that "Angus Taylor's plan is to do not very much by 2030 and leave it to future governments to do the rest."

See: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7491223/federal-government-not-budging-on-public-funding-of-net-zero-by-2050/?cs=14264

Kindin Ongugo

Have a look at this. Does population growth impact climate change?

United Nations Population Fund - www.unfpa.org

Sierra Club’s Global Population and Environment Program - www.sierraclub.org/population

Worldwatch Institute - www.worldwatch.org
__________

Kindin – I have examined each of your sources. In my earlier response to you, I wrote that “the main direct cause of climate change is fossil fuel emissions”.

That was a correct statement and none of the sources you quote say anything other.

www.unfpa.org says “in fact, the major driver of climate change is the emission of greenhouse gases”.

www.sierraclub.org/population deals mainly with addressing the effects, not causes, of climate change. In this respect it focuses on “gender equity so that these communities can become healthier, stronger, and better prepared to adapt to climate disruption”.

At no time does Sierra Club state that the main direct cause of climate change is anything other than fossil fuel emissions.

www.worldwatch.org was disbanded when the Worldwatch Institute was wound up in 2017. The link you cite does not connect to a living organisation.

Furthermore, there is nothing attributable to what was once the Worldwatch Institute to suggest that the main direct cause of climate change is anything other than fossil fuel emissions.

That said, I accept that population growth is an indirect contributor to climate change, but my comment referred specifically to "the main direct cause".

KJ

Kindin Ongugo

Australia alone will not solve climate problem. It is a worldwide issue.

The real reason for climate change is overpopulation. Increasing population is putting increasing demands on services and unfortunately the environment has to be sacrificed to meet the needs.

The United Nations now must be discussing world population as a priority issue alongside climate change.
________

The main direct cause of climate change is fossil fuel emissions - KJ

Lindsay F Bond

Immediately upon the spruick put by the Australian Prime Minister, immediately journalists put kibosh on the spruick, one putting it "Old policies were dressed up to look like climate action".
Now who wants to be a mullet-aire?

Chris Overland

The author of this article is correct: in the case of the Morrison government it is safe to assume that all its pronouncements are self serving, misleading or simply false. Oli save tok maus wara tasol.

In relation to climate change, the only comfort that can be offered to PNG is that Australia's state and territory governments of all political persuasions have long since parted company with their hopeless Federal counterparts.

Unhindered by having to pander to a hysterical, myopic and belligerent rural rump party, they have set out ambitious climate targets and committed to the net zero target for 2050.

In a similar way, the country's major business leaders have begun ramping up their efforts to achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible.

Also, it is now evident that Australia will be subject to punitive international action for its egregious failure to develop a coherent and plausible national climate change action plan. This is currently composed mostly of slogans, none of which have impressed the international community.

So it is not all bad news. The recalcitrant Morrison government will, as in so many things, be dragged kicking and screaming to confront the reality of the situation rather than continue to live in the fantasy world of its own confection.

The truly sad thing is that so many opportunities to take maximum advantage of an inevitable change are being missed, with Australia being peculiarly well suited to thrive in a carbon neutral world.

This is what happens when a government becomes solely focussed on an immediate internal party political problem and so completely misses seeing the bigger picture.

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