Friday 7 December 2007

Climate change, justice and peace

CairnsBlog contributing writer Sid Walker writes as a friend of the earth...

The most incisive statement I’ve seen about the challenge facing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bali is Friends of the Earth International’s recent media release entitled Bali Climate Change Talks Must Succeed.

Friends of the Earth is an international environmental organization with a bedrock commitment to social justice as well as sustainability. It is well-placed to comment wisely on this historic conference.

Solving the appalling global climate change crisis demands making sustainability and socio-economic justice twin goals of global policy.

The FoE International media release says:
  • “Rich nations must pay their climate debt to the developing world by radically reducing their emissions and help vulnerable communities adapt to the impacts of climate change. This means embracing renewable technologies, improved energy efficiency and reduced consumption.”
Friends of the Earth International urges negotiators to:
  • "Agree a timetable for negotiations to establish an international framework for major emission cuts post 2012, with legally binding burden-sharing of emissions reductions in industrialised countries based on historical responsibility;

    Agree a major increase in funding for the world’s most vulnerable and impoverished countries to enable them to develop low carbon economies and adapt and build resilience against the impacts of climate change;

    Establish an independent verification system to ensure emissions reductions and financing obligations are met, with stringent penalties for non-compliance."

Those are obvious necessities that stare humanity in the face if we truly intend to solve the climate change crisis.

Any other approach entails escalating use of military force by rich and heavily-armed nations (notably the USA), because further entrenchment of injustice on a global scale would inevitably and quite reasonably be resisted. The resulting chaos could cause irreparable damage to our civilization and ecological base.
The second reason FoE International is able to play a respected role in Bali is because of the Indonesia Forum for Environment (WALHI). This is the largest forum of non-government and community-based organisations in Indonesia. It is 27 years old, is represented in 25 provinces and has 438 member organisations. WALHI is affiliated to Friends of the Earth International.
WALHI is a highly talented network of activists that survived years of dictatorship and has consistently shown great integrity, courage and intelligence in its campaigning work. It is an authentic voice of decency and reason from within the developing world, where most of our planet's people live.

One of the most shameful episodes in the Howard Government’s last year was misuse of parliamentary privilege by Senator Ian MacDonald who smeared WALHI (and the Australian Greens), alleging terrorist connections using a 'guilt-by-association' line of reasoning that has become all too commonplace in contemporary Australia. Apparently he didn't bother to check with WALHI before making his very offensive insinuations.

MacDonald was plumbing the depths of gutter politics, but WALHI's responded with dignity:
  • "False claims of links to terrorism represent a serious escalation of the systematic attacks on civil society groups that dare to criticize the human rights and environmental performance of government and multinational corporations both in Australia and Indonesia. Claims of an “apparent alliance between radical Islamists and the Friends of the Earth” represent an attempt to discredit an organization and the individuals who are a part of it, who work towards protecting people's rights to their natural resources and in saving the environment for future generations to come."

The truth is that organizations such as Friends of the Earth, from global to local level, point the way to a terror-free world.

Common prosperity in a stable and fruitful environment is the only real basis for collective security – not fortified concrete walls, detention centers or multi-billion dollar strike aircraft procurements.

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