Leaders selling short our future
As has been happening for the past few week’s today’s column comes from far-off Palestine, where I’m undertaking volunteer work in a refugee camp.
Given the ease of keeping up with Australian news courtesy of the internet I’m not short of topical issues for my DA opinion pieces, but last week my attention was taken not by stories from any of the Australian media to which I subscribe, but by a BBC headline which loudly proclaimed “Pacific forum turns into row with Australia over climate goals”.
A row! That’s not the usual diplomatic process. Read on, I thought. It wasn’t the BBC resorting to tabloid-like sensationalism, for as Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama explained, Mr Morrison’s behaviour was “Very insulting” and the Tongan PM was brought to tears.
And as Greens Climate spokesperson Adam Bandt said, when calling for the PM to declare a climate emergency in Australia, “Scott Morrison has made Australia the bad neighbour in the Pacific. He’s spent the entire Pacific Islands Forum lobbying to remove the words “climate crisis” and “coal” from plans to tackle the impacts of climate change.”
What actually transpired at the forum was indeed insulting to our neighbours. The majority of the 18 nations at the forum agreed to stronger climate goals, with only Australia holding objections. It fell far short of a more ambitious communiqué endorsed by many Pacific states earlier that week, which had demanded an immediate end to coal mining. Australia refused to agree.
We did pledge $A500m to Pacific island nations for renewable energy projects. Clearly an attempt to buy them off, this paltry bribe was taken from Canberra’s existing foreign aid budget, adding insult to injury.
Reading all this depressing news I had a I “Home thoughts from abroad” Robert Browning-esque moment as I thought of what has happened to Wagga’s attempts to respond to the climate crisis.
I initially thought of Michael McCormack’s appalling response to Mr Morrison’s attempt to buy and bully our Pacific neighbours into acquiescence. Our local MP, leader of the Nationals and Acting Prime Minister in Mr Morrison’s absence actually said Pacific island nations affected by the climate crisis will continue to survive “because many of their workers come here to pick our fruit”. I’m left wondering if he thinks before he speaks, and if he does, if he really believes Australians will actually believe such arrant nonsense.
As my column makes its way closer to home the behaviour of five councillors on Wagga Wagga City Council who voted to rescind the climate emergency declaration matches that of Messrs Morrison and McCormack, in that they not only ignore the ‘bleeding obvious’ but actively work towards worsening the situation. Come the 2020 local government elections their perfidy will not be forgotten.
Our City Council could at least act on Dr Trudi Beck’s call to implement a local strategy to implement a heat plan under the guidance of the NSW State Emergency Management Plan (EMPLAN) and its sub plans. Some adaptation plans are better than nothing, as I have previously advocated.
However, depressing though the Council news was, since then our climate emergency campaigners have increased their energy and output.
These local activists include Fridays for Future, Climate Action Wagga, Stop Adani Wagga, Extinction Rebellion, Riverina Greens, Climate Rescue of Wagga, our two Labor councillors, and Erin Earth. My apologies to any organisations I have missed naming.
These organisations are busy researching, lobbying, agitating, providing resources to others, and of course, getting out there and spreading the word.
Lest any readers wonder how they can join this rising tide of action there are two ways coming up. The weekly Fridays for Future 9:30 am picnic protest in front of Michael McCormack’s office on the bank of the Wollundry Lagoon is open to all, and of course on the horizon is the latest iteration of the Schoolies’ Strike on 20th September, this time around dubbed the Global Climate Strike.Everyone can participate in what will be a truly people’s event.
We can’t all sail in a solar-powered yacht to the UN climate emergency conference in New York, as young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is doing, but we can all march down Baylis Street, lobby our councillors and MPs, and, of course, vote.