A Final Word

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I promise that this will be my final post regarding the G20 meeting in Brisbane.

The G20 is over.  Many of the leaders have already left Brisbane and others are due to follow in the coming hours.  Security fencing and barricades are being dismantled.  Brisbane will return to ‘normal’ tomorrow morning, although, there are indications that there may still be some disruptions to traffic during the morning peak hour.

To all intents and purposes, life in Brisbane will be the same as it was a couple of weeks ago.  From a personal perspective, I will be interested to see whether climate change and Australia’s response to it can be put firmly back on the domestic political agenda.  Mr Abbott was dragged kicking and screaming to accept that climate change discussions should be part of the G20 discussions.

A detailed comment on climate change has apparently also been included in the final communique.

The following details are from a report regarding the discussions.

The final G20 communique includes a significant passage on climate change after “difficult discussions” among leaders on Sunday, and despite an impassioned defence of coal and fossil fuel industry by Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.  After much wrangling, the final leaders’ communique includes a recommendation for nations to commit funds to the UN’s Green Climate Fund that Mr Abbott opposes.  According to sources, a clear majority of leaders – including US President, Barack Obama – argued for stronger language in the  communique on climate change, to the apparent chagrin of Mr Abbott.  Mr Abbott gave an impassioned defence of coal and, reportedly, argued against inserting a line in the communique recommending the abolition of fossil fuel subsidies, an objective of the G20 for many years.  Coal-fired power stations are the biggest contributor to rising global carbon emissions that are warming the planet.  Mr Obama is understood to have spoken forcefully against Mr Abbott’s position on fossil fuel subsidies. The final communique calls on G20 members to “rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.   Mr Abbott had support from Saudi Arabia and Canada, but countries led by the US and Europe remained steadfast.

As President Obama said in his speech at the University of Queensland, “leaders must be held accountable.  Combating climate change cannot be the work of governments alone.  You have to keep raising your voices, because you deserve to live your lives in a world that is cleaner and that is healthier and that is sustainable … That’s not going to happen unless you are heard.”  Let’s get out there and do just that.

004Meanwhile, life goes on here as usual.  Our main focus this weekend was keeping the garden watered during the extreme heat.  Most plants seem to have survived fairly well.  The hot wind has battered some of the small hedging plants at the front so The Duke has re-staked them.  I took these photos yesterday afternoon.  They are not of the vegetable gardens but are simply some snippets of the views we see each and every day.  I hope you enjoy them.

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G20 – Day 1


WARNING:  This post is a political piece which contains my personal opinions.

My embarrassment is complete.

As the host nation of the G20, Australia had an opportunity to be innovative and forward-thinking.  The Prime Minister of this country chose to use this once in a generation opportunity to address the major world leaders as a chance to trumpet his ‘successes’ in government.

The headline item was the abolition of the carbon tax.  While this measure was certainly not ideal it was at least an acknowledgement of action on climate change and a step in the right direction.  He then continued with his feet planted firmly in his mouth to ‘thank God’ that he had managed to stop the boats.  This was in front of the Indonesian President who is less than happy with Australia’s approach to the refugee situation, not to mention the leaders of Germany, France and Canada who have all had 5 – 20 times as many asylum seekers arrive in their countries over the past 5 years as what Australia has had.

The final indignity was then to have a whinge about the fact that he was having trouble passing the budget measures to limit a tertiary education to those who can afford to pay and the proposed $7 GP co-payment.

Last week China and the USA signed an historic agreement to work together on addressing the effects of climate change.

Today, President Obama addressed 2,ooo people at the University of Queensland with a wide-ranging speech which included an impassioned plea to “look squarely at the science…and reach a strong global agreement next year” and United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon told the international media that, “Climate change is the defining issue of our times, therefore it is only natural that the G20 leaders should focus on this.”

Yet Mr Abbott believes that climate change should not be a part of the G20 discussions.  His performance has been cringeworthy and it is difficult to imagine that any of the other countries present at the G20 could ever take Australia seriously.  Mr Abbott, you have made us an absolute laughing-stock.