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.
Here in Bonn, though it seems that there has been admirable progress in the Durban Platform, and critical bilateral progress…Read post →
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…
As you may already know. Ryan and I go way back. Last night when we were talking about the…Read post →
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.
The moon blazed bronze above the black sands of Qatar. COP18 continues deep into the night; as delegates battle sleep and tired eyes that dare to dream of a world without negotiations any longer.
But as the Kyoto Protocol hangs in the balance, we recap on how it all happened. From the 4wdrive of the US, the late entry of Australia, the continuous compromise of the EU, India’s equitable exclamation and the historical hypocrisy of the US…we capture it all in this latest episode of Climate Theatre.
The latest episode of Climate Theatre covers the origins of the Kyoto Protocol and the love binds that have been left behindRead post →
As the negotiators begin to battle into the early morning hours, we thought we’d highlight some of the nicest negotiators we have met here in Doha
Say what you like about Australia’s policies, we’ve got one great negotiator in Gregory Andrews. Not only is he a nice guy who proved himself this year facilitating the discussions on long term finance, he’s also an avid defender of social justice back home in Australia. Oh, and in case you’re wondering how he’s been able to keep his cool here in Doha, it’s because he used to live in red-centre of Australia’s desert, not so far from where I used to call home. No wonder he’s such a nice guy.
Claudia Salerno (Venezuela)
Table topping, heart-stopping, hotter-than-a-Jalapeño Claudia only arrived in Doha this week, but already sparks are starting to fly. On her first morning here, it was Singapore’s Burhan Gahfoor who commented that “it’s good to see Claudia here, because now you know things are going to get serious”. As the great hope for all of us sick and tired of the Business As Usual approach to interventions, lets just hope that Durban’s passion hasn’t run out just yet.
Rene Orellana (Bolivia)
This man has been a stalwart against the harmful effects of markets in the UNFCCC and can always be depended upon to remind developed countries just how big the giggatonne gap is between their (lack of) ambition and science. But what sets this guy apart, is his zen-like demeanor. With a healthy shot of passion, a pound of patriotism and a pinch meditative peace, Rene is sure make an impact whenever he intervenes.
Paul Watkinson (EU but also wears a French hat from time to time) When this man isn’t actively finding a compromise, he’s pretty keen to tweet. And generally, he’s just a pretty approachable guy (whether online or live). So while the EU might be getting a bit of criticism here, you can bet this guy is fighting behind the scenes fighting for all of us.
Madeleine Rose Diouf Sarr (Senegal) As the KP talks have prolonged well past peak negotiating periods, Madam Madeleine has been the one divine dividing line, keeping the lions from tearing each other apart. Not only has she been ever persistent in pushing these discussions through the mud of polarized parties, but as I realized late last night, in the midst of unanimous madness, Madam Madeline has remained true to her magnanimous grace.
Tulio Andrade (Brazil) According to the recommendations from female negotiators here in COP18, Tulio is this year’s hottest ticket and unofficial Mr. Doha. So much so, many negotiators seem caught somewhere between a swoon and a sigh whenever Tullio takes the mic. The unofficial “knight in shining armani”. But its his cause to compromise, not only in his content but in his calming tone that has impressed me most, and could well act as a model for many others here to follow…
Franz Perrez (Switzerland) When you’re looking to inject some urgency into the negotiations, this guy puts his foot to the floor all day every day. Don’t rely on him for kind offers of Swiss compassion, this ticking time bomb emits more radiative forces than the sun and is the ultimate accountability measure here at the talks. For all those countries unwilling to up their ambition in the next few days, watch out, because Franz will hunt you down!
Jonathan Pershing (USA) …just kidding
About the authorChris Wright
Climate researcher, political ecologist, activist and an award-winning slam poet from Australia.