Australian news, and some related international items

Australian no longer seen as a good global citizen

Australia fast losing its reputation as an outstanding global citizenPETER BOYER, Mercury October 25, 2016  Australia would rate pretty well as a citizen of the world if the sole measure of that was being open to the global market.

With protectionism on the rise, fuelled by vanishing jobs and anger about the excesses of multinational corporations, Australia gets top marks for its open economy.

That is the good news, but we are dragging our heels against other measures of global citizenship, including our response to the principle of human rights, which dictates that everyone should be treated decently.

Human rights came under a spotlight this month when three investigations, by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Amnesty International and the ABC’s Four Corners, independently targeted the heartbreaking plight of about 50 child refugees on Nauru………

The toughest measure of global citizenship is climate policy. Last year’s Paris Agreement calls on us and the other 190 signatory nations to achieve results not just for this generation, but for those to come — decades and even centuries ahead. That takes real vision.

 Australia is not short of people with vision, including some in government service. Over the past 10 years Australian diplomats and scholars have played a big part in the task of developing international carbon mitigation instruments.

One of these is Howard Bamsey, a Canberra-based academic and climate policy specialist, who has been co-chairman of the UN’s Dialogue on Long-term

Co-operative Action on Climate Change, and Australia’s climate change envoy under Kevin Rudd. A fortnight ago Bamsey landed one of the toughest gigs on the planet: executive director of the UN’s Green Climate Fund, based in South Korea. Next week the Paris Agreement comes into force, and this agency has a pivotal role in making it work.

Bamsey must ensure richer countries honour their pledges to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries tackle climate change. He has to get money flowing into 100-odd projects in the pipeline. So far the fund has disbursed just $5.4 million.

The European Union, the US, China and 81 other countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, which means it becomes legally binding on Friday week. The process took less than 11 months, as against nearly eight years for the Kyoto Protocol. Australia, which has not ratified, is out in the cold.

Despite Government claims, Australia’s 2030 emissions target of 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels is well below what multiple authorities, including the Climate Change Authority in 2015, contend would be a fair contribution to keeping the world below 2C.

For half a century Australia was a leading player in the UN. We backed conventions on human rights and refugees, we took in war refugees from Europe and Asia, and we were leading players in a succession of UN environmental and climate conventions.

However, that all took a hit when John Howard rejected Afghan boat people and then refused to ratify the Kyoto climate protocol. His was a vote for world-weary cynicism over youthful enthusiasm. That narrow cynicism prevails, and it is strangling the life out of our country.

October 27, 2016 - Posted by | General News

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