Climate Change Saboteurs


The climate change saboteurs are mucking in with their bits of devastating advice. Australia, as it promised to do with its new conservative government, has taken the lead against carbon pricing as a mechanism of curbing pollution. Its newly elected Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is a minted climate change denialist. Even as continents burn, and typhoons rage, expediency is too sacred a calf to sacrifice. In the Australian context, mining corporations touch the status of the divine.

Australia has other cheer leaders to add to its pro-mining, anti-climate change squad. Last week, the Canadian government released a formal statement via Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, celebrating the Australian stance. “Canada applauds the decision by the prime minister Abbott to introduce legislation to repeal Australia’s carbon tax. The Australian prime minister’s decision will be noticed around the world and sends an important message.” The statement was certainly right on the second point.

The decision by the Abbott government to repeal the carbon tax on the country’s 300 biggest polluters has been considered an act of environmental lunacy. The mining lobby is chortling. In the case of Canada, it already started chortling in 2011, when Canada withdrew from the Kyoto protocol on climate change. Its report card on the subject of reductions is bleak, having failed to meet its own international emission targets. The culprit there has been mining in the Alberta tar sands.

Harper’s government is certainly pulling no punches about its polluting credentials. It is the bully in the ring, treating the science of climate change with a disdain similar to Abbot’s denialist posture. On Wednesday, it decided to describe the European Union’s decision to class carbon-heavy Alberta crude dirty fuel as “unscientific” (Guardian, Nov 14). It should know – this is a government with a rather lax approach to scientific protocols.

Even as Calandra’s statement of congratulation claimed that green house gas emissions were, in fact, being reduced under Harper’s wise management, Environment Canada was claiming the opposite. By current calculations, Canada’s emissions are projected at 734 mega tonnes, 122 mega tonnes higher than the target of 612 set by the international accord of 2009. The accord placed Canada in line with the US goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. The current pace of reduction, however, will amount to a mere 3 percent drop.

Japan has similarly announced that it will modify its pledge to reduce its emission cuts from 25 percent to 3.8 percent by 2020. The Japanese case is complicated by the fact that 50 of the country’s working nuclear reactors remain offline after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. Heavy reliance is placed on gas and coal-fired power. The wealthy, in short, are reneging and repudiating. The sleepwalkers of history are in the ascendancy.

The gulf between an accepted policy of approaching climate change by targeting carbon, and those against any pricing mechanism to deal has become a yawning one. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or the Conference of the Parties (COP) 19 session in Warsaw has drawn it out starkly, and it is striking that Australia does not even have a delegate at the talks. Enraged, impassioned, and upset, Yeb Sano of the Philippines claimed at the Warsaw climate change conference that the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan demanded his own sacrifice: a hunger strike. As thousands are feared dead, Sano claimed that he would fast for the duration of the conference till a “meaningful outcome is in sight.”

The Filipino advocate, in an impassioned speech, reminded delegates about the pressing problems of climate change. “We can fix this. We can stop this madness. Right now, right here.” While it is true that environmental catastrophes do provide invaluable propaganda fodder that sometimes excludes science at the behest of political motives, there is little doubt that the statement of change is unmistakable. Scientists continue to ponder the links between hurricane activity and anthropogenic links to climate change. Countries more sympathetic to commodities and hostile to renewable energy sources are grabbing any chance to deny any links.

But when the future of the planet is entrusted to an unqualified caretaking approach to miners, the plundering advocates who make stripping resources, rather than replacing them, a priority, we are in a sorry state indeed. When developing countries are being burdened with efforts to reduce emissions, while wealthy states increase their polluting credentials, the tables have been given their perverse turn.

This is not to suggest that efforts, some of time arguably more productive, are being undertaken outside the multilateral efforts of the UNFCCC. Bi-lateral agreements, notably those between China and the US, have been made to reduce emissions. But the UNFCCC remains the only forum of its type, despite lingering questions about long-term finance for developing economies and the wording of a draft treaty.

The fury of the developing world will not abate. According to Munjurul Hannan Khan, representing the 47 least affluent countries at COP 19, “They are behaving irrationally and unacceptably. The way they are talking to the most vulnerable countries is not acceptable.” Australia, Canada and Japan are doing their level best to claim otherwise.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  He ran for the Australian Senate with Julian Assange for the WikiLeaks Party.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

October 06, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Afghanistan, the Terrible War: Money for Nothing
Mike Whitney
How Putin will Win in Syria
Paul Street
Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class
Paul Craig Roberts
American Vice
Kathy Kelly
Bombing Hospitals: 22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan
Ron Jacobs
Patti Smith and the Beauty of Memory
David Macaray
Coal Executive Finally Brought Up on Criminal Charges
Norman Pollack
Cold War Rhetoric: The Kept Intelligentsia
Cecil Brown
The Firing This Time: School Shootings and James Baldwin’s Final Message
Roger Annis
The Canadian Election and the Global Climate Crisis
W. T. Whitney
Why is the US Government Persecuting IFCO/Pastors for Peace Humanitarian Organization?
Jesse Jackson
Alabama’s New Jim Crow Far From Subtle
Joe Ramsey
After Umpqua: Does America Have a Gun Problem….or a Dying Capitalist Empire Problem?
Murray Dobbin
Rise Up, Precariat! Cheap Labour is Over
October 05, 2015
Michael Hudson
Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism
Patrick Cockburn
Why We Should Welcome Russia’s Entry Into Syrian War
Kristine Mattis
GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science
Heidi Morrison
Well-Intentioned Islamophobia
Ralph Nader
Monsanto and Its Promoters vs. Freedom of Information
Arturo Desimone
Retro-Colonialism: the Exportation of Austerity as War By Other Means
Robert M. Nelson
Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster
Matt Peppe
Misrepresentation of the Colombian Conflict
Barbara Dorris
Pope Sympathizes More with Bishops, Less with Victims
Clancy Sigal
I’m Not a Scientologist, But I Wish TV Shrinks Would Just Shut Up
Chris Zinda
Get Outta’ Dodge: the State of the Constitution Down in Dixie
Eileen Applebaum
Family and Medical Leave Insurance, Not Tax Credits, Will Help Families
Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure
“Boxing on Paper” for the Nation of Islam, Black Nationalism, and the Black Athlete: a Review of “The Complete Muhammad Ali” by Ishmael Reed
Lawrence Ware
Michael Vick and the Hypocrisy of NFL Fans
Gary Corseri - Charles Orloski
Poets’ Talk: Pope Francis, Masilo, Marc Beaudin, et. al.
Weekend Edition
October 2-4, 2015
Henry Giroux
Murder, USA: Why Politicians Have Blood on Their Hands
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Lightning War in Syria
Jennifer Loewenstein
Heading Toward a Collision: Syria, Saudi Arabia and Regional Proxy Wars
John Pilger
Wikileaks vs. the Empire: the Revolutionary Act of Telling the Truth
Gary Leupp
A Useful Prep-Sheet on Syria for Media Propagandists
Jeffrey St. Clair
Pesticides, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Acceptable Death
Joshua Frank
The Need to Oppose All Foreign Intervention in Syria
Lawrence Ware – Paul Buhle
Insurrectional Black Power: CLR James on Race and Class
Oliver Tickell
Jeremy Corbyn’s Heroic Refusal to be a Nuclear Mass Murderer
Helen Yaffe
Che’s Economist: Remembering Jorge Risquet
Mark Hand
‘Rape Rooms’: How West Virginia Women Paid Off Coal Company Debts
Michael Welton
Junior Partner of Empire: Why Canada’s Foreign Policy Isn’t What You Think
Yves Engler
War Crimes in the Dark: Inside Canada’s Special Forces
Arno J. Mayer
Israel: the Wages of Hubris and Violence
W. T. Whitney
Cuban Government Describes Devastating Effects of U. S. Economic Blockade
Brian Cloughley
The US-NATO Alliance Destroyed Libya, Where Next?