Australia has been tackling charges of indifference on climate change for sometime now. The recent comments by Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, who had been the acting Prime Minister, while PM Scott Morison was away in Tuvalu, angered the collective voice of the Pacific Island nations.
That noise and uprising in media was yet to die down from the after- effects of the audio released in August 2019, and now a new surgency has further fueled Australia’s projected opinion on these well chronicled backlashes from the present Australian Government. At the center of it are the rapidly plummeting shores of the Pacific Island Nations. Liberal MP Craig Kelly told a monarchist dinner the Commonwealth nation of Tuvalu is floating, not sinking. Though backed by some facts (Mr. Kelly responded to Pacific Island’s appeal for aid and effort against climate crisis, stating that Tuvalu being a coral atoll will float rather than sink), this will add salt to the unhealed wound left by preceding nonchalance.
The Pacific Island Nations; Fiji, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and others have been withstanding the effects of climate change, with droughts and rising sea levels. They are closest to danger, at the fear of being gulped down by the sea. Ironically, they also are rated with the lowest carbon emissions in the world. Australia’s continued lack of interest in their growing concern for survival and the present government’s charged comments have downsized the scale of the threat. This has concurrently amplified the villainous role of Australia in dealing with Climate change and the Pacific Island Nations. What Australia has really been reduced to in media, is a caricaturique portrayal of the country’s highest leadership.
Much of Australia’s stand is deep rooted in its own struggle to strengthen its economy. It has been fiercely battling accusations for its open support for coal. But to what end? Energy harnessing and generation became Australia’s mainstay and coal has been its oldest ally. With the new Adani’s Carmichael Project being approved, it is touted to accelerate economic development in the region. Environment Minister Greg Hunt said it would contribute $930 million to the Mackay region’s GDP and $2.97 billion to the Queensland economy each year for the next 60 years. Figures constantly presented are not satisfying the media. The decision is underwritten by, however insignificantly proclaimed, serious harm to the environment.
Consider two clauses that are never highlighted by the governance; first a conscientious take on the plight of the Pacific Island Nations. Second, the effects of climate change on its own country. Australia has experienced its worst drought season in years, which will only further aggravate life and economy. Its emissions may not be causing the breakdown of the system but it will also not work in quelling it. Paris Agreement or not, the country, in the words of its own people, reflected in the policies (or lack thereof) and ministerial outlandish statements, is mocking, belittling and diverting discussions on the one issue which has become a menacing priority of many countries. Has Australia turned Offensive in Defending itself?