Climate change and refugees: different problems, same responsibilities

 In Paris, President Obama said

That United States of America not only recognises our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it

The problem of climate change is  a global problem with the potential to destroy the environment in which we live and the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe is not of these proportions.


Nonetheless, it’s a noble sentiment and present the main perpetrators of the Allies  contribution to the humanitarian disaster in the Middle East, United States, Australia and Great Britain have done little or nothing to help the refugees and a still contributing to their plight through the bombing.

And Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was in fine form, skating lightly over thin ice, a skill which he seemed to be perfecting.

It has already emerged that during the summit Australia will be signing up to a global clean energy technology initiative that would see the government double its $100 million a year commitment to research and development in the field over the next five years.

This is pretty generous, considering that Bill Gates is personally tipping in $2b  (that’s about $A2.8 billion)

In a reversion to form Turnbull stopped short of backing a pledge to promote fossil fuel subsidy reform that is being launched at the summit.

There was a timely reminder from Erwin Jackson from the Climate Institute appearing on 7.30.

LEIGH SALES: Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, told the meeting that Australia would make cuts of between 26 to 28 per cent by 2030. How does that contribution shape up among comparable nations?

ERWIN JACKSON: Well, it’s not a fair contribution to limiting warming to less than two degrees, which has bipartisan support in Australia. It also leaves us at the back of the pack compared to other developed countries, in terms of the overall emission reductions that we’re going to achieve.

So, for example: the average emission reductions across developed countries on 2005 levels by 2030 is around a 35 per cent reduction. And if Australia implemented its target, it would also see us remaining the world’s per person highest – Australia’s per capita emissions would still be the highest amongst the developed countries. But we’d also have the most pollution-intensive economy of any developed country.

Australia’s close relationship with the coal industry has effectively been ratified by the Prime Minister in Paris

Australia has rejected a statement of support for reform of fossil fuel subsidies after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made a last-minute call to break the news to New Zealand counterparts on Sunday night in Paris.

The statement, which was launched at the first full day of the Paris climate summit, will see almost 40 countries sign a communique committing to promote the phase out of inefficient government subsidies for the use of coal, gas and oil.

Organisers had hoped Australia would also get on board. But with rural and conservative MPs in the Coalition revolting back home in Canberra, Australia has decided not to put its name to the statement.

The Paris conference represents an opportunity for Malcolm Turnbull to distance himself from the right wing of the Liberal party by taking a much stronger stand on emissions targets. It’s still a long way  from a carbon trading scheme which is now the more or less universally accepted method for limiting global emissions.

This becoming increasingly clear that Turnbull is completely shackled by the right wing of his party and that, despite being Prime Minister, he still dances to the tunes written by Tony Abbott

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