At the conference in December 1997, Australian representatives argued that we should be allowed a target of an 8% increase in our emissions because our economy is dependent on fossil fuels. Despite widespread condemnation from both advanced nations who were negotiating to curb their emissions considerably, and developing nations who felt their growth was being unreasonably capped, we stuck to this position and the rest of the world agreed rather than lose consensus. Then, to the horror of every civilised person on the planet, the Prime Minister announced that we would renege on our agreement on the basis that our economic growth was more important than the future of the planet.
Only the US government, which had been opposing the Kyoto Protocol since the Berlin conference of 1995 applauded. Australia’s refusal doubled the number of nations refusing to ratify the treaty and gave the US some credibility as one of two countries that refused to cooperate in a global effort to save the world.
Over the intervening decade we have heard a range of justifications for this anti-social position. The problem is not real, the science is not convincing, the problem might be real but we are not sure of the causes, it does not matter how much greenhouse gas we emit because other nations emit much more, the litany of weak excuses goes on and on.
Living in this country it is almost impossible to imagine the disdain the rest of the world feels for us. We are in a similar position to the children of drunks. We think that getting thrown out of parties is normal and we believe that all hosts are equally unreasonable self centred pigs, because that’s what we hear on the way home.
Leave the safety of our shores and spend any time in Europe, Japan or South America and you realise that the rest of the world is increasingly angry. European car companies, for example, have reduced emission targets by one third, and face further legislated reductions in the coming year. They are spending huge sums of money to comply with this negotiated regime and now demand that their governments place sanctions on products coming from the United States and Australia.
As we approach the next round of negotiations for a global protocol, Australia and the US have decided to use the Australia Pacific Economic Cooperation group to form an alternative strategy on addressing global warming and undermine the Kyoto Protocol. Posing as the architects of a solution that can bring the United States, Canada, Australia, China and India into a binding agreement, it is a thinly disguised attempt to derail attempts to shift the world’s energy production away from fossil fuels.
The screening this week of The Climate Change Swindle on Australia’s public broadcaster, after 47 of the scientists quoted in the film have publicly distanced themselves from it and claimed that the filmmaker has edited their quotes out of context and misused footage is simply another piece of ‘noise’ designed to distract the debate.
It is disgusting that a decade after Kyoto was negotiated that we are still arguing about whether global warming is real. This government has a clear agenda and that is to sell as much coal as possible before the world community forces us to stop. All the political bluster is just a distraction while the real action takes place at the port of Newcastle which ships one tenth of the coal used on the planet.
There is only one solution, evict this government at the next election and give The Greens control of the parliament. The Greens have consistently spelled out the imminent disaster facing the planet for two decades and have been the only party brave enough to grapple with the need to restructure our economy. The party’s position has not changed in all that time but the mainstream view has.
Vote for the party that is building the future. Vote one The Greens.