NOOSA – For me, the first big cop out of the COP26 climate change conference came with the revelation that Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape had spent K5 million sending a 62-member delegation to Glasgow.
On Twitter I remarked that this was at the criminal end of reckless indulgence for a country that is literally broke and having to borrow billions just to sustain its basic operations, and which has a health system in tatters.
As one of my 8,000 followers Ian Taukuro commented: “I'm disgusted over this waste of funds we don't have. Who does the vetting? It all better translate into something great for PNG when they get back.”
Well what it translates into is not looking great, or even slightly positive.
As Palau's president, Surangel Whipps Jr, told world leaders at the UN talks, “You might as well drop bombs on our islands” if they fail to agree on radical climate action.
His colleague from over the water in the Marshall Islands, president David Kabua, said “at this conference, action must begin because, if we don't, we're gone”.
"That why I used the example of you might as well bomb us...if there is no hope, we might as well just end it now," he said.
Whipps said Australia should be doing more to lead the way in reducing emissions.
"Australia is the leader in the Pacific and I think they need to step up and understand that we as small islands are going under and you need to take responsibility and take the lead,” he said.
Whipps would have been disappointed, but probably not surprised, that Morrison had come to the conference empty handed, even if he was to leave with egg on his face.
Another big disappointment was Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands’ next door neighbour , Indonesia.
After telling the forum that her government had the signed COP26 pledge to end deforestation by 2030, Indonesia’s environment and forestry minister, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, posted on Twitter that she "rejected use of deforestation terminology that isn't in accordance with conditions in Indonesia.
“There is not a single study that says that cutting down a tree is part of deforestation,” Bakar wrote. “The point is that the loss of forest area is included as deforestation, not the loss of trees.
“The massive development of president Jokowi’s era must not stop in the name of carbon emissions, or in the name of deforestation.”
Scomo would have been proud of that verbal legerdemain.
Speaking of the now world-recognised Liar from the Shire, it has been the case for some years that most Australians want their government to act to reduce carbon emissions. Some polls have shown this to be favoured by as much as 70% of voters.
Morrison knows this, but thinks he can get around it by doing what he does best – lying.
He says his government is already taking the required action to achieve a target of zero emissions by 2050.
There are two problems with this claim: it isn’t true and it’s not the target the world now needs.
“All the other advanced market economies have understood this point and have increased their target emissions cuts by 2030 in the lead-up to Glasgow climate summit,” says Michael Keating, former head of the prime minister’s department, now a visiting fellow at the Australian National University.
“Australia is the sole exception.
“Morrison would have us believe that (zero emissions by 2050) is sufficient to constrain global warming to an acceptable extent.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. To achieve that goal of limiting global warming to less than 2C, we must have an ambitious target for cuts in emissions by 2030.”
The experts say that if the world doesn’t cut emissions by at least 50% by 2030 – that’s in eight years - there is no hope in keeping global warming to less than a 2ºC increase in temperatures.
That, my friends, will be disastrous for every living thing on the planet.
Meanwhile, Heai Steven Hoko comments that, now PNG’s loggers have been given a deadline, “I bet the logging environment destroyers will increase the rate [of] logging sophistication in the next eight years [and] speed up their operations.”
And Tim Hollo observes that “we're in a climate emergency, and here is the Australian government yet again looking to expand fossil fuel extraction.
“The reckless indifference to the deaths of countless people, creatures, entire communities and ecosystems, is just horrifying.”
Correct, and the people of the Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea know that Tim has precisely expressed their betrayal by the Morrison government.
This is the man who calls them ‘family’; but in reality regards them as expendable.
Sources: Pearls & Irritations, ABC Pacific Beat, Tweets by Max Walden, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, Yudith Ho, Aaron Chin, Ian Taukuro, Tim Hollo and Heai Steven Hoko