At the UN’s COP24 climate talks currently under way in Poland, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, described climate change as “the most important issue we face”.
The address by Sir David Attenborough was unequivocal in its alarm, fearing the collapse of our civilisations and recognising climate change as a “man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years”.
In Australia, our political leaders do not seem to share this sense of urgent pending calamity reflected by the UN speakers, but there are obvious signs that at least parts of the electorate have received the message. Recently, thousands of students marched on the nation’s capital cities, as well as in many regional centres, protesting the inaction on climate change.
The report Global Warming of 1.5oC was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October 2018. Although the report does not say so, the evidence it presents renders the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change redundant. It asks the wrong question, and its goals and strategies are now revealed to be completely inadequate for avoiding catastrophic climate change.
Although the 2015 Paris Agreement includes keeping global warming “well below” 2oC, the ‘well below’ is unspecified and most analyses focus on 2oC of warming. However, 2oC is not (as it is frequently portrayed) ‘safe’ for the environment or for humanity, and is not based on science (it has always been a diplomatic compromise). Warming of 2oC will have catastrophic consequences for the environment, biodiversity, ecosystems, human health, and even human civilisation, and must be avoided, rather than viewed as an acceptable limit.
Ryan van den Nouwelant and colleagues
That is the central finding of our new research report on the housing infrastructure needs of low-income earners, published by the Australian Housing & Urban Research Institute (AHURI). By our reckoning, 25 years of inadequate investment has left Australia facing a shortfall of 433,000 social housing dwellings. The current construction rate – little more than 3,000 dwellings a year – does not even keep pace with rising need, let alone make inroads into today’s backlog.
We now know a number of things we were not told in February-March 2003. These include the fact that the invasion of Iraq was an agenda item on the first Bush Cabinet meeting in 2001.
We also know that Vice President Cheney’s Taskforce had, in early 2002, drawn up a map dividing Iraq’s lucrative oilfields among its corporate supporters.
The so-called Downing Street memorandum compiled by Sir Richard Dearlove, Head of the UK’s MI6, dated 23 July 2002, was disclosed in the course of the Chilcott enquiry. That memorandum stated, “military action was inevitable”, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction would be the public justification, and that “intelligence was being fixed around that policy”.
… Successive Australian governments since 2003 have a refused to hold a proper enquiry. The reasons are now obvious. The ongoing disaster in the Middle East is a direct consequence of our involvement in a war based on lies and illegality from the outset.
The matter should not be allowed to rest there.
For all our cultural cringing and geopolitical fearfulness, we are a truculent nation, arrogating to ourselves the title of middle power, expecting the international community gratefully to bestow us a seat in global forums like the UN Security Council and the UN’s Human Rights Council. What we don’t interrogate is precisely what kind of middle power we are. Instead, it is simply taken for granted by the majority of our policy makers and commentators that, in the words of Gareth Evans and Bruce Grant, “Australia is a middle power. We are manifestly not a great power, nor, however, are we small or insignificant”.
This belief is worrying, because it is indicative of a lack of a national self-awareness about the kind of country we are, and about how we might be regarded in our region and internationally. This is actually dangerous for the country’s security. Interrogating the middle power assumption underlying Australian foreign policy is a matter of urgency.
If foreign powers really want to make a difference to PNG, one of the poorest countries in the region, then funding equipment like telecommunications gear and solar power kits would be widely welcomed. One key benefit would be using mobile phones to transfer money – instead of traipsing long distances to a bank in town.
No fewer than 85% of PNG citizens live in rural and remote areas, it is estimated, so items like these are capable of making an enormous difference in their lives.
SPC Video Selection
Sir David Attenborough addressed the UN’s COP24 climate change conference on Monday off the back of his social media #TakeYourSeat campaign.