Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Poor Spit Back on the Rich

As of 4 AM Nov. 20 one hundred and thirty two countries, the G77, China, the African Block and the Island Nations walked out of the Warsaw COP19 conference

Saleemul Huq, the scientist whose work on loss and damage helped put the issue of recompense on the conference agenda, said: "Discussions were going well in a spirit of co-operation, but at the end of the session on loss and damage Australia put everything agreed into brackets, so the whole debate went to waste."
According to the Guardian, the contempt shown by the Aussies for the conference, pigging out, wearing tees and more, was the final straw.  Australia, among the developed nations is the least able to withstand pressure from the G77 and China.  Look at a map.

The substantive issue for the walkout was due to the refusal of the US, EU, Australia and Norway to discuss compensation before 2015.
"This is a red line for us," Munjural Khan, a spokesman for the Least Developed Countries (LDC), told the Guardian. "We have been thinking of ways to harden our position, to the point of walking out of the negotiations."
UPDATE:  Now all the NGOs have told the US, and Europe to go stuff it, walking out
Around 800 people from environmental groups, including Greenpeace and WWF, walked out of U.N. climate talks in Warsaw on Thursday in protest at what they see as a lack of progress towards a global deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, not even close to front page news here in Australia... there's a small matter of State involving the avoiding of actual hostilities with Indonesia.

The present government likely to be disinclined towards anything involving increased foreign aid or more spending on climate change mitigation (while rolling existing measures).

Expect us to be "out to lunch" on this until well after 2015 :-(

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

It's really not relevant and it's not going to happen in any meaningful way. The real question is whether the big industrial countries can construct a framework of enforcement and incentives that will produce a slowing of CO2 emissions. The history of civilizations and their failures is not encouraging.

cRR Kampen said...

Wow. Just wow.

Burn, Australia.

Anonymous said...

Since the end of 2010, when Abbott just missed winning the election before last, I predicted that he would win in 2013 and that future generations would regard him as worse than Hitler and Stalin. Today's result in Warsaw is the first concrete step to cementing that inevitability.

Australia has in the space of ten weeks, and through the willful and criminal negligence of the Coalition members of the House of Representatives, gone from being one of the leading examples for a possible better future for the planet to being the main instigator of the its destruction. Democracy in this country has been corrupted and has failed its citizens and those of other nations, and it has failed future generations. (It's galling to think that if one more Liberal member had voted for Malcolm Turnbull as party leader rather than Abbott, the path of history would have been profoundly different...)

I love my country, but I detest the political and intellectual ignorance of the majority of electors that arises from their self-indulgent apathy. Australia deserves to be boycotted, sanctioned, and otherwise held to be the international pariah that Abbott and the Coalition have made it. Insulting neighbouring nations, arming murderous regimes, destroying the climate, enacting policy founded in racism - all in two and a half months - our humiliation is abject and complete.

There's a chance that the Coalition might be ejected at the next election, but that's three years away and the world doesn't have that much time - it didn't have that much time three years ago. For what our nation has done to the world, I apologise.

But do not forgive us. Never forgive us. And be sure to force your own governments and citizens to put as much pressure - and to pour as much derision - on Australia as you possibly can. Let it never be forgotten just what damage Tony Abbott the sociopath and his conservative ideologues brought to the only blue marble that life as we know it will ever have.

Bernard J.

Anonymous said...

Not just Australia, but Norway too:

Though none of the "developed" nations cover themselves in glory, really.


Anonymous said...

"worse than Hitler and Stalin" (!)

Enough already


Anonymous said...


The way I look at it, the path down which Abbott has taken the planet could make a difference of a degree or more warming over the next century. Given the additional premature (and unpleasant) deaths that such an increase in temperature would almost certainly bring with it, I think that the comparison would be perceived as valid by the future generations experiencing them.

Yes, we who are alive now have a visceral antipathy to the atrocities of the early 20th century, and the future deaths of people as yet not born are mostly an abstraction in the current collective mind, but those future generations will see it differently - the 20th century will be 'ancient' history to them, and the avoidable death and damage wrought by us will seem far more atrocious.

I strongly suspect that their sensibilities will have a rather different focus than ours.

Bernard J.

Anonymous said...

Bernard J,

you're way off here.

There is no moral equivalence whatsoever with the deliberate cold blooded industrial murder of millions of people and the government of Tony Abbott.

Ignorance, wishful thinking and avoidance are not comparable to planned genocide. It's also IMHO offensive to those suffering today under racist or extremist regimes.

To attempt to justify this merely detracts from the truth hidden beneath your hyperbole.


a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Godwin aside, I think it is very safe to say that history will not look kindly on Mr. Abbott, nor on Oz for electing him, nor on our entire generation.

Then again, if the likes of Abbott have their way, history won't last long.

I think now that the only hope we have is technological. That is a longshot, made longer by the determination of leaders to squander ever more time before facing reality. However, it's the one hope we have left.

Dano said...

I'm glad all these countries walked out, but they are still under the thumb of the rich nations.




A blue marble is a terrible thing to lose .

Anonymous said...

Oh there has been some marbles lost...


EliRabett said...

The interesting thing is that Australia is the one country that the G77 and China can really squeeze. For example, given the response to Australia's role in the NSA spying, Indonesia has suspended all cooperation. That means that there is no cooperation with respect to boat people trying to land on the north coast. As to China, China has Abbott's balls in a sack.

Anonymous said...

The Rabett said:

"As to China, China has Abbott's balls in a sack."

It's a very small sack. Mind you, it's also big enough to hold his brain.

Anonymous said...

"But do not forgive us. Never forgive us."

Yep. We should hang our heads in shame. Even those of us who thought differently and voted differently are part of the larger communities that allowed this awful thing.

We feel overwhelmed by the bigotry and the ugly selfishness and short-sightedness around us, but it's where we are and part (however uncomfortable) of how we live. Basically, we have to get busy, join political parties and get some changes. Even if we can't turf out this party of buffoons from government promptly, we can make it much more uncomfortable for Abbott to continue - at least on his current path.

I just feel so tired.

Minnies Mum

Bryson said...

As a Canadian, I think we belong in the box (penalty box-- a hockey reference for the non-Canucks) along with the Aussies. Maybe ejection from the game, with trade penalties to follow. The current government might just learn something from that- criticism and science clearly aren't enough.

Anonymous said...

(Part I)

"Bernard J,

you're way off here.

There is no moral equivalence whatsoever with the deliberate cold blooded industrial murder of millions of people and the government of Tony Abbott.

Ignorance, wishful thinking and avoidance are not comparable to planned genocide. It's also IMHO offensive to those suffering today under racist or extremist regimes.

To attempt to justify this merely detracts from the truth hidden beneath your hyperbole.


I have thought long and hard before going down the path toward Godwin*, and I don't resile from my conclusions. It's not something that I invoke frivolously - my grandfather smuggled several boatloads of Jews out of Holland during WWII so I am well aware of the implications of any comparison with Hitler.

There are several points to reiterate and/or raise here. The first is that I am referring to the perceptions of future generations, not of our own, and future generations will have a very different context to ours. It's a sad fact of human nature that time dims the cultural memory, and in future the atrocities of Nazi Germany will seem far away and less real whilst the accumulating climatic disasters compounding the other environmental and economic will be front and centre in the minds of those future generations. My point is not about "moral equivalence" as much as it is about that perception at a future time.

The second point is that those future generations might look at the choice (and it is a choice) that Abbott made to dismiss the advice of the best scientists (and of most of the economists) of the world as being deliberate, cold, and completely selfish - especially as it is founded in Abbott's recognised personal ambition. This megalomania of Abbott's is worth dwelling on, and especially worth seeing directly as it was revealed by Tony Windsor - watch Abbott squirm as Windsor reveals to the parliament that Abbott begged for the prime minister-ship. Abbott was as prepared to expediently accede to a carbon price (a position which he would no doubt have reversed at a later date) as he was to tell lies about the Labor carbon price that was introduced in July last year. It's all about any means to an end for this guy, no matter who he has to run over to reach his goal.

Abbott is playing politics with the subject, just as he is with the current FUBARing of our relationship with Indonesia, and as he did a few days back by giving Sri Lanka a couple of navy boats to stop asylum seekers reaching Australia. He has full access to Australia's best scientists and economists and "ignorance and wishful thinking" are not a feasible excuse for him or his colleagues. "[A]voidance" is certainly something in which he is engaging, but it is a conscious, deliberate and willful avoidance - and therefore something for which Abbott and his colleagues are completely and culpably responsible.

Bernard J.

[*On the matter of Godwin's Law, a useful corollary would be that as the collective body of discussion on the internet progresses, the probability will reach 1 that some of them will validly and indeed necessarily mention Hitler.]

Anonymous said...

(Part II)

Third point: the consequences of Abbott's diversion and delay of international action on climate change may not manifest as the horrendous "industrial" gassing deaths that Hitler favoured, but future generations are not likely to put as much store as we do in the nature of that horror when those same future generations suffer death from increasingly-common storms of the magnitude of Typhoon Haiyan, or from wildfires such as those that so many countries are experiencing with greater frequency, or from the increased prevalence of diseases, or from widespread famine, or war resulting from disputes over water access. This segues into my fourth point, which is that without action to minimise warming to less than 2-3 degrees Celsius over the 20th century baseline the number of people that will die in the future from human-caused climate change will exceed the combination of Hitler's ~11 million and Stalin's ~20 million. The WHO is currently acknowledging 150 thousand deaths annually from the effects of climate change (others say more). There are even more extreme estimations that put this figure at an order of magnitude higher still. It's actually not a simple exercise to project how this excess in total climate-related deaths would progress to the end of the 21st century under a business-as-usual scenario (there are many studies, but most seem to be regional) but it's likely to be at least an order of magnitude greater or two than that caused by Hitler and Stalin.

If future global warming-caused deaths won't exceed the deaths attributable to Hitler and Stalin I am more than willing to be persuaded, and if future generations will consider their global warming-caused excess deaths to be not as appalling as those caused by Hitler and Stalin I am prepared to be persuaded about that too.

It would be a hard ask though - a Third World fisherman or farmer in the second half of the 21st century, when confronted with the death of a child such as this man was, and this man was, or with with the loss of a whole family or village, will feel the selfishness of deliberate Western inaction to prevent the harm which is largely of the West's doing far more acutely than any history lesson about the first half of the 20th century. The Third World is already feeling it - which is why they've walked out in Warsaw and are pointing the finger directly at Australia and it's chums - and numerically they are "the other 80%"...

Bernard J.

Anonymous said...

(Part III)

As to the issue of people suffering under racist or extremist regimes, I think that you're straying into straw man territory. I've said nothing to belittle their plights, and readers who know me would tell you that I strongly advocate against racism and oppression where it occurs. Further, I would strenuously argue that Tony Abbott's wealthy, First World dismissal of the future (and present) harm that Western societies are bringing to the planet, and to regions over represented by countries not responsible for the majority of that harm, is (and will be in the future) more offensive to those suffering citizens than any observation one of us First-Worlders might make that their opinion of Abbott and Co will eclipse in magnitude our opinion of Hitler.

When all is said and done my point was about how the future will see the actions of particular individuals, once those individuals are visible only in the distance of the rear-view mirror of history. In a 4-degree warmer world I suspect that human-caused global warming - and the people who most expedited it - will matter more to many more future people than will the actions of early 20th century dictators.

Bernard J.

Anonymous said...


I agree that the Oz government is behaving contemptibly and will likely be poorly regarded by future generations. I have nothing to add on the ethics of Tony Abbott vs Adolf Hitler, on that I stand by my earlier posts.


Anonymous said...

Leon Blum was a Jew, Socialist Prime Minister of a Popular Front government in France during the Spanish Civil War. Blum did little to delay the march of Fascism. He spent most of the war in Buchenwald and Dachau, but survived.

After the war, he said "Our generation failed in it's task".

Now another generation fails, not just European leaders this time.


Brian said...

I see a parallel between the compensation issue and Keystone. Even if Keystone eventually moves forward, it's useful for climate hawks to push on that issue as that makes the other participants more likely to do more to reduce climate impacts.