Posts by: Chris Wright

According to an unreliable non-wiki leak, the Australian government plans to announce that it will send a special representative Koala to the UN Climate Change negotiations starting today.

While not holding any official title, the Grey-suited Aussie icon will be supported by a number of government interns and recent volunteers who have joined the team in the wake of recent department shuffling. Apparently, the fuzz-ball has been a key consultant on the government’s Direct Action plan, which didn’t go so well recently.

But the sad truth is, with the foreign minister pretending to be busy in Sri Lanka and the environment minister trying to overthrow the Carbon price, it seems that there is just no-one left to send.

This comes after a year of enlightened government reshuffles thanks to newly elected Supreme leader, Tony Abbott. Under his regime’s decision to ABORT Australia’s Minister for Science, Australia’s Climate Commission, merging its international climate team with department of foreign affairs and trade, and Firing almost 1/4 of the nation’s top scientists previously employed in the government’s scientific research and advisory body, the Abbott government’s newly recruited high-school science advisors have decided the best way to deal with these upcoming climate negotiations, is to send something fluffy to make people smile.

According to leaked phone calls released today by Edward Snowd-in, Tony Abbot’s newest science advisor was the only option available to the new coalition government.

“Basically, there’s no-one left in the government who knows anything about climate change, so we’re just going to send a Koala and hope no-one notices. Lets just hope he doesn’t talk about the bushfires though…

koala

 

Another unverified sauce spilled this bit of insight into the government’s motivations;

“We are as of this moment currently uncertain as to whether to the climate negotiations will be attended by a real or toy Koala. This matter is still under serious discussions and cannot be speculated on at this exact moment”.

There are already objections to the unprecedented diplomatic move from a number of sources currently reading this blog, and apparently Tony Abbot’s unofficial representatives have stated that he is “all ears” to any objections you might have to this or any of his other policies, and are more than welcome to voice your so-called ‘science-based objections’ on his twitter page (@TonyAbbottMHR) or contact page.

Of course, given the nature and gravity of this policy shift there are those who believe that the move is just a hoax, potentially created to entertain readers of this blog.

However, this move comes after a wave of political pressure in the wake the government’s decision not to send a high ranking governmental official to the UN climate negotiations, drawing widespread criticism from local and international reporters who were all hoping Tony Abbot might attempt to swim from Sydney to the rapidly warming waters of the Baltic Sea wearing his infamous “budgee smugglers”.

The decision not to swim to #COP19 “puzzled” former UNFCCC chief Yvo de Boer, who was secretly saddened the famous “budgee-smuggler” was not going to make an attendance, nor send any of his other male colleagues.

“I heard Tony and his male friends in the Liberal party have a long history of claiming travel allowances. I just don’t understand why they didn’t send anyone?”, someone who looked like de Boer was quoted as saying.

After reading the response, and seeing such an interesting name for the first time, Abbott was reportedly shocked into a spell-bound response and snapped up his advisors into a quick ditch policy session, where they came up with the Koala idea.

The team of advisors now hope the former UN chief is quietly comforted.

As for the rest of us, following what will inevitably be an historic announcement sure to come in the next few days, they wish for us all to respect the Koala as a national icon.

According to an unreliable non-wiki leak, the Australian government plans to announce that it will send a special representative Koala…

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Social media is most definitely a daunting tool to master, that too many people nowadays take for granted...

Believe Me, Social Media is a wild, brazen beast.

Maybe not for you, but for Me -
At times,
it reminds me of an Annaconda squeeze -
a nail-biting vampire
of breathing down the jugular veins of
your keyboard.

A wild, Amazonian temptress
ready to rob you of everything
you ever valued, everything you ever dreamed,

a bone-marrow depleting
destiny
…with a dentist!
Well…

Maybe not thaaat dramatic.

But it is most definitely a daunting tool to master, that too many people nowadays take for granted.

Sure, you may infected with facebook fever, a grammy-award winning Instagrammer, a twitterer since your tweens, but do you really know how to expand on the too often tunnel-vision trend that social media has us stuck in?

In this brilliant essay, Harvard Law Professor and former head of the ‘Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ in the US, Cass Sustein argues that the Internet – which is now way more dictated by social media than back when he wrote this great essay in 2001 – is actually not so great for finding out information you didn’t want to find out in the first place.

The notion of a filter bubble describes all about how our internet use is actually blocking our minds from interacting with things that we might disagree with or dislike.Since then, a bunch of people have written about this trend, including this great post on Cracked and this one really cool guy called Eli Parser. This guy wrote a book called the filter bubble all about how our internet use is actually blocking our minds from interacting with things that we might disagree with or dislike – thereby creating a filter bubble within our own Internet experience, and within our social network. (Here’s another great explanation of this effect.)

Put basically, every time you use google, facebook, twitter, or even go on-line, your on-line experience is becoming more perfectly personalized, and therefore more limited to the things you liked before.

This is great for efficiency and for finding stuff on-line that you’re going to like.
But it sucks for anyone trying to get people to notice things that they might not otherwise notice, engage with topics they might not really want to engage with, or read a blog by a blogger they aren’t predisposed to enjoy.

And that’s why I call social media a bit of a wild beast. Because it has the potential to take control of you, and anyone who uses it, by controlling what you see based on ‘what you want to see’.

This is the reinforcing loop many of us are locked in.

The key then for social media activists, is how to get into this loop, or how to break people out.

During my time with Adoptanegotiator.org, I have tried a bunch of different techniques to try and break into people’s loops. Some of these have worked, and some of these haven’t. But just like those kids on Silicon valley have shown the world, it seems like as long as you’re not afraid to fail, and fail horribly – you might be heading in the right direction.

That’s been my philosophy with Social media and online activism in general. In my blog content and my social media engagement, I think the key aspect has been an ‘openness to failure’ that has allowed me to be a bit more creative than maybe I should have been, a bit more brazen than others were expecting, and sometimes, a bit more successful than I thought.

This is exactly what happened to me when I wrote what I thought was a cheeky gossip piece about the UN climate negotiators called “The top 10 negotiators at COP18”.

After this blogpost based on humor and addressing directly some key negotiators, this post spread like wildfire and I was invited to meet several key negotiators.

At the time, I thought it would be just a bit of fun, maybe only read by some of my team members and a few young people at the conference looking for a laugh. So I really set myself free with my wording, and I made it a list, like the ones on Cracked, because I thought that would be something I would enjoy reading. And I used a lot of funny wordplay about important people who don’t usually get written about in non-serious tones. In the end, it turned into a a funny little piece, that I decided to send to some of the negotiators on twitter. After I did that, it spread like wildfire within the UN climate circles.

The day after I wrote it, I was not only being asked in for meetings with lead negotiators from the Philippines, Venezuela, Australia, Peru and the EU, but I was even being quoted by the President of Brazil. ‘

And thanks to shares on Facebook and Twitter, I was getting feedback on the article from people who never before had been interested in the UN climate process.

While I’m not exactly sure why this all happened, I think a big part of it comes down to a few variables:

  1. I made things personable in a way not too many other people were doing at the time
  2. I tried to make it funny
  3. I used a format people like and is easy to engage with – like a list.
  4. It was different/unique/strange
  5. I sent it directly to the negotiators involved – who then sent it to their delegations, who sent it to their friends.
  6. I shared it in as many relevant hashtags and facebook groups I could – even if this meant overtly double posting.
  7. It was a bit scary.

While you shouldn’t always do things that are scary, sometimes sitting on the edge of scared is a good place to be in when trying to break people out of the information loops the Internet has them sitting through.

That reminds me of another scary blog I wrote – actually it was a video I made one boring day watching the negotiations in Thailand. Instead of writing a safe blog that everyone else was writing about the nonsense going on in the negotiations that day, I decided to make a mocking video that I tweeted as “Hidden camera footage of Bangkok negotiations” across the UNFCCC twitter lists, using every hash tag I knew – and then directly tweeting it to the negotiators supposedly involved.

In June this year, I twisted a famous song to raise my concerns about an issue that my Adopt-a-negotiator colleagues had already analyzed. This allowed us to reach to a different audience.While this was a mocking video with a lie for a headline, it strangely began a conversation on-line between negotiators and myself, led to informal meetings later on, and opened up a space to discuss semi-serious stuff on twitter – for the whole UN climate following to see.
It was a pretty similar case when I posted this Karaoke impression of the negotiations, or when I teamed up with Sébastien Duyck on a series of mocking videos of the UN negotiations. It started as something different, something fun, something scary, and something we decided to share.

In the end, after you get the basics right like how to share things and who to share them with, you need to have something they feel like they want to share as well. So you need something that people enjoy sharing. And thanks to the research I told you about before, your friends are probably the best people to start sharing things.

But if their friends are going to share it again, it has to be something worth sharing and emotionally engaging. And sometimes, that ends up being something funny – even if you have to be funny about something really serious.

This is especially true when it comes to climate change. If we are ever going to do something about communicating climate change better, we have got to start figuring out ways to break out of the converted choir groups we continue to sing in and start to connect to people on an emotional level. This article will help explain why.

One way to do that, is to make things fun – and fun for your friends to share. Even if you’re trying to communicate something serious.

Believe Me, Social Media is a wild, brazen beast.
Maybe not for you, but for Me -
At times,…

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Here in Bonn, though it seems that there has been admirable progress in the Durban Platform, and critical bilateral progress between China and the USA, I have been deeply saddened by the stalemate that seems to have flooded the first week of negotiations in the SBI.

As such, I send out this message, direct from John Lennon to the head of the Russian delegation. Please Honorable representative of Russia… let it be.

Watching on from afar as this week, it seems the SBI negotiations have spiraled down the drain of a clogged negotiating room. A blockage, made from frustration. A breech in the chinks of the UNFCCC armory that opened up in the ‘consensus’ of Doha. While desperately searching for a conclusion, Doha ended with one country, and one Lead negotiator vowing that they had been hard-done-by. And I don’t blame them.

I remembered back then, only 6 months ago. As the Kyoto Protocol looked nothing more than a cleared construction site, waiting for its foundations to be renewed, watching the negotiations drift round the weekend’s corners, I wondered if Russia, Poland and the Ukraine’s objections would blow the whole convention over. But as the caucus came to its surprise ending, with Russia still standing in objection I really felt they had been unfairly treated. Yet, as this week dragged on like a flat tyre lumbering up hill, I hope these reinterpreted words of one of the great peace seekers sung here, will bring sense, solace and serenity to the SBI in its second week.

For all of those who continue to object, please, just let it be.

 

 

Oleg it Be!

On June 10, 2013 By

Here in Bonn, though it seems that there has been admirable progress in the Durban Platform, and critical bilateral progress…

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Ryan Gosling 2

As you may already know. Ryan and I go way back. Last night when we were talking about the ongoing uncertainty in the negotiations, he asked me to pass this on.
Apparently was Ryan was very concerned by the way Russia’s last minute interventions went unheard in Doha, but told me that he hopes that they can find a way to move on, for the good of the Durban platform, and our common future…

Tagged with:
 

As you may already know. Ryan and I go way back. Last night when we were talking about the…

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Believe it or not, we all survived the Mayan apocalypse. It looks like we might even survive this fiscal cliff nonsense, and we all survived the first 6 months of Australia’s supposedly ‘catastrophic’ carbon tax. What a miracle 12 months we’ve had!

But will 2013 be an apocalyptic year for Australia’s climate change policy?

Over the last 2 years, I have watched on as political shifts in Canada and New Zealand have effectively reversed climate change policy in these two countries. What has happened in both proves that international climate policy is almost as volatile as climate change itself.

This year, as Tony Abbott’s conservative party colleagues are already eying out their seats on the other side of parliament, will his climate legacy be the same as his international conservative contemporaries?

I remember passing tissues to climate activists from New Zealand as they ushered in their 2011 election results with tears dripping onto their laptops. At the time, I didn’t really understand it. What was all the drama about? To me, I had always looked on to New Zealand’s own Emissions Trading Scheme (like a carbon tax) with envy and admired their far more progressive Kyoto protocol targets.

However, what my friends from New Zealand’s Youth Delegation to the UN climate negotiations already knew, was that all of that was about to change. Their tears came true. Within the next year, New Zealand’s new conservative National Government, led by John Key reneged on its international climate responsibilities and pulled out of Kyoto.

And as a result of the recent decision by countries at the UN climate negotiations in Doha to not allow non-Kyoto countries to take advantage of carbon markets within the Kyoto Protocol, their Emissions Trading Scheme will suffer as well…and might be in need of some serious reshuffling.

And then there’s Canada. Oh Canada. Thanks to Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, Canada has gone from being that nice, polite, progressive kid you could introduce to your parents, to the local hitman. Not only did Canada turn its back on its Kyoto agreements and its $7 billion Kyoto bill, but since then, the government has laid waste to the country’s environmental credentials.

This year alone, Harper’s Conservative government has introduced over $160 million in cuts to environmental spending as well as gutted the country’s environmental legislation, including lifting the requirements for environmental assessments of offshore drilling. They even made most of these changes during this year’s Rio+20 UN Earth Summit, causing widespread post-traumatic disorder among environmental groups across the world.

And unless something dramatic happens to the water surrounding Parliament house, it looks like Australia might be heading for the same climate policy backflips.

Ever since Kevin Rudd was elected way back in 2007, Australia has quickly moved to make up the ground it lost during the endless years of climate silence that had reigned before. We joined the Kyoto Protocol, continued our commitment this year, and implemented our now world famous Carbon tax.

But the Labor party has come a long way from its 2007 popularity, and Tony Abbott is the far-and-away favourite to take out the election this year. Interestingly, The latest poll by Essential Research has found that as of November last year, more people support the carbon tax (46%) than oppose it (44%). In fact, The carbon tax is now more popular than Tony Abbott. Support for Abbott is at -31% (voter satisfaction compared to dissatisfaction according to Newspol).

Sadly however, support for Julia Gillad’s Labor government is even worse. So as Australia goes to the election this year to pick their lesser of two unwanted governing parties, all of this positive progressive movement could take a turn for the worse, overnight.

Throughout his time as the Liberal opposition leader, Abbott has vowed to crush the carbon tax. “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”  has been an all too repeated calling card Abbott has kept on speed dial. He has also labelled the Carbon tax as an octopus, a sudden cobra strike, a phyton squeeze, a cash cow and a dog of a tax. So he’s going to look pretty silly to anyone who has been listening if he allows this animorphing piece of climate policy to stick around.

While Abbott’s personal polling took a slide for the worse after everyone realised that the Carbon tax was not nearly as catastrophic as Abbott made it seem, he’s still beating on the drum.

In a recent column for News Limited, Abbott wrote that he plans to resurrect his fear-mongering tactics in a bid to abolish the carbon tax as Prime Minister.

“AUSTRALIA is a great country that needs a better government. We need a government that’s prudent with taxpayers’ money, competent in delivering services and, above all, honest with people about what it will and won’t deliver. If elected this year, the Coalition will: reduce the pressure on family budgets by abolishing the carbon tax”

This is all part of his new “positive” plan to “build a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia.” Admittedly, nobody wants to hear Tony Abbott when he’s negative.

But scrapping the Carbon Tax would not support Aussie families, and if anything, it would make for a far more insecure Australia as these families plan for their future. What Tony Abbott doesn’t realise is that the Carbon Tax is not made to hurt Aussie families, but support them, and to support a safer and more secure future for Australia as these families grow up and grow old.

And it would be pretty complex. He would need a big majority to be able to all out scrap the Carbon Tax. But if statewide elections are a trend of things to come, Australia’s Carbon Tax may be on the chopping block faster than you know. And if the Carbon Tax goes, Australia’s Kyoto commitments go with it.

So far early hints put the election somewhere in August. If nothing changes before then, we could see some dramatic changes to Australia’s climate policy before the year ends.

With 2013 being an election year, a change of government in Australia might mean a change in climate policy as well.

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