Sad to see that Australia has stood out for the wrong reason at the COP 24 summit at Katowice in Poland.
The badge of dubious distinction is for being the only country supporting the United States in its defence of the coal industry and opposition to real action to reduce carbon emissions.
Australia’s representatives at international forums and government have long been regarded as puppets, without a thought independent from Washington’s. This latest disgrace in the name of Australia can only confirm this view.
The cringe worthy performance was all the worse, because it was not merely lining up in a debate. Australia stood unwaveringly beside the United States, at a separate event run by that country, when every other nation was in Poland to discuss doing more to take on the threat of global warming. Whichever ways you look at it, this was a pretty low act.
None of the other nations at the summit attended the event, called “US innovative technologies spur economic dynamism,” and designed to “showcase ways to use fossil fuels as cleanly and efficiently as possible, as well as the use of emission-free nuclear energy”.
They had good reason to stay away.
Protesters managed to get into the event and cause considerable disruption to the proceedings
Patrick Suckling, Australia’s ambassador for the environment, disgraced himself before a backdrop of the American flag, with all sorts of insincere mumbo jumbo about the need to reduce emissions. The thrust of his talk was that the fossil fuel must continue, and that carbon emissions can be stored.
While having to recognise, in the face of the overwhelming evidence, that emissions must come down, an effort was made to sidestep the issue was by talking about being technologically neutral.
Simon Bradshaw, Oxfam Australia’s climate change policy adviser, said it was “extremely disappointing” to see Australia line up behind the US in pushing a pro-coal idea.
“It is a slap in the face of our Pacific island neighbours, for whom bringing an end to the fossil fuel era is matter of survival, and who are working with determination to catalyse stronger international efforts to confront the climate crisis. And it is firmly against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of Australians,” he observed.
Wells Griffith, representing the United States was with Suckling and said the US would continue extracting fossil fuels and warned against “alarmism” about climate change.
He said, “We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice their economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,” Translate this to no coal, oil or gas company should be denied from profiting.
Australia’s representative and government also betray Australia, by committing to outdated technology, which in addition to adding to the climate risk, will impose a great deal of damage to the economy. Alternative energy is already cheaper, and its cost is continuing to decline. Ongoing reliance of fossil fuels will mean a declining economy, as well as inflict serious environmental and social costs.
So long as this noxious industry continues to wield the power to buy political leader, and so long as the betrayers of Australia continue to be in the pocket of Washington, we are in for a hard time.
Australia must get rid of them, so we can take responsibility for our own future and make our contribution to ensure that the world is a greener and safer place.