The NEC Present’s DEC Update

By Scott Sledge

Climate Conferences: In late November the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) agreed to start a fund for poorer nations to mitigate the effects of climate change. This appears to many as a sop to the third world so that the weak resolution allowing “lower emission fuels” can be treated as an acceptable alternative to renewables. Is it any wonder when so many of the COP27 participants were delegates from fossil fuel entities that they influenced the outcomes in their favour? While gas may emit less pollution when burned, its extraction and transport leaks massive quantities of methane, so it is NOT a solution to anyone except those making massive profits from gas.

WWF Global Climate and Energy Lead and COP20 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said the loss-and-damage deal risks becoming a “fund for the end of the world” if countries don’t move faster, and he insisted, “Without rapid and deep emissions cuts we cannot limit the scale of loss and damage. By failing to agree to phase-out fossil fuels at COP27, leaders have missed the chance to accelerate the elimination of fossil fuels, keeping us on course to climate catastrophe.”

COP15, another climate conference, will begin this year in Montreal, Canada. Living In Harmony With Nature will set 2050 targets for biodiversity that will be used as a benchmark to track global loss of wildlife and habitat. COP15 will set out a plan to halt this deterioration, and the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Frameworkis relevant to this effort. As Greens Environment Spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young says, “We need to stop making the problem worse by opening up new coal and gas, and COP15 is our chance to create a global movement to tackle the biodiversity crisis with an ambitious plan to live in harmony with nature.”

To support this, we need the Labor Government to:

  • Commit to a Post-2020 framework
  • Halt the extinction crisis with a ‘zero extinction’ target
  • Create plans to implement the 2050 vision for biodiversity
  • Strengthen Australia’s weak environment laws
  • Implement a ‘Climate Trigger’ so polluting projects are assessed for the emissions they create

As COP15 kicks off in Montreal, the Federal Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, will respond to the Samuel Review, an examination of Australian environment laws. We must have a strong, nationwide response. In my opinion, the Australian government needs to tackle the issues of climate change, biodiversity loss and the failure of the EPBC Act to protect listed species head-on. Otherwise the Commonwealth ratification of international conventions is meaningless.

At COP 27 President Biden announced that contractors supplying the US Government would be required to present a responsible carbon emission plan with accountable benchmarks if they want government contracts. He said it is a waste of taxpayers’ money for the government to pay companies that are not aiming to reduce their carbon emissions and then have to compensate communities for damages their pollution had a part in causing such as extreme weather events and sea level rise.

Meanwhile, journalist Maya Menezes wrote, “Here in Egypt it feels like there are two COPs. In one, some governments and climate advocates battle over the text of negotiations to make a liveable world possible. In the other, private corporate interests cast a long shadow, and carbon credit systems are shuffled back and forth in an effort to maintain fossil fuel subsidy regimes prolonging the life of oil and gas extraction and delaying climate action.” We must ensure the climate crisis can’t be eclipsed like that in future agreements.

Exposing forest biomass as a false climate solution. Climate campaigners helped call out Big Forestry’s presence at COP27 by hosting a panel profiling frontline voices from communities on five continents who are directly impacted by this dangerous false solution to the problem of coal. Menezes reported, “We strengthened our relationships with a powerful network of biomass energy justice campaigners around the world, helped shape the media narrative, and built some strong momentum that we’ll be taking into the upcoming UN conference for biodiversity being held in Montreal in December.

The good news is that people worldwide are waking up to the climate crisis and applying innovation to reduce waste and pollution. The cost of continuing to ignore our problems has become a major issue so even those profiting from fossil fuels use see a need to reform. Will it be enough? I suppose it has to be. I used to say, “There is no problem so great it can’t be run away from.” Humanity can run, but we cannot hide. Mr. Musk and others who dream of living on the Moon are simply lunatics.

Withdrawn: the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Private Native Forestry) Bill 2022, which would have ended NSW local government involvement in regulating land used for logging and extended private native forestry plans from 15 to 30 years. Wildlife campaigner Sue Arnold said NSW Premier Perrottet has shown complete ignorance of the plight of endangered koalas and has diminished his chances of re-election next year by reigniting the Koala Wars. North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dailan Pugh joins me in thanking Tweed MP Geoff Provest for following Catherine Cusack’s example and threatening to cross the floor and vote against the retrograde legislation, though he warns that it is likely to rise from the dead for the third time if Perrottet’s government is re-elected in March.

Dailan said, “On the same day Koala-killing Bill II was withdrawn, in an apparently politically co-ordinated move, Kyogle Council voted to scrap the dual approval process for native forestry on private land, leaving approvals entirely in the hands of Local Land Services. It transpired that while Council requires consent, 133 of 146 current PNF operations in the Council area have not even applied. In an ABC north-coast radio interview, timber merchant Andrew Hurford said they have been working on these legislative changes for at least 6 years and been promised them for 2 years, maintaining logging is actually good for Koalas. He claimed he wasn’t aware of the necessity to get council approval.”

I attended the Kyogle Council November meeting and suggested they may want to change their motto from “Gateway to the Rainforests” to “Gateway to the Rainforests’ Destruction.” Local forest defenders may use as a test case recent logging on land adjoining the World Heritage-listed Border Ranges National Park and seek a Court order to stop. The Cherry Tree State Forest logging has been suspended pending a Court decision, which will likely be handed down in 2023.

Photo Caption : Logging begins next to World Heritage forest. Note the damage to trees too small to be taken for timber. There is no adherence to requirements for “sustainable logging.”

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