Coal favoured over future of Pacific islands

Posted by jamie — 10 August 2009 at 3:45pm - Comments

Last week saw some high-flying direct action from our Australia Pacific colleagues. Coal export facilities in Queensland were occupied for days by climbers hanging like fruit bats from the rigging, and our ship the Esperanza was on hand to help enforce the blockade.

Meanwhile, politicians from Pacific nations were in Cairns to debate strategies for tackling climate change - but the outcome of their meeting was anything but positive.

As reported on our international site last week:

"After our activists spent 36 hours hanging off the Hay Point coal port, we sent our ship, Esperanza, to continue blocking the terminal. We have run three days of coal actions, including the complete shut down of the Abbot Point coal export terminal, to highlight the injustice of Australia and New Zealand abandoning their Pacific neighbours while throwing taxpayer dollars at dying fossil fueled industries.

"Abbot Point coal export terminal is set to double in size, financed by more than AUS$328 million (198 million euros) of public money in 2009/10... And even though the Hay Point coal export terminal is already one of the biggest in the world, it is now being expanded from 112 to 190 million tonnes per year."

There's plenty of video and photos from the blockade over on the Australia Pacific website.

The actions were timed to coincide with the Pacific Islands Forum (Pif) being held in Cairns where climate change was one of the hot topics. Many Pacific island nations are under threat from rising sea levels and other effects - it's so serious, the prime minister of Tuvalu has raised the idea of relocating his entire population - and they had proposed some ambitious and necessary targets for reducing emissions, 45 per cent by 2020 for developed countries.

However, it was clear to the PIF that the prime ministers of those 'developed countries' (namely Kevin Rudd of Australia and John Key of New Zealand) were having none of it. The pacific islanders demands vanished utterly from the forum's final communiqué, as a concession to (amongst other things) Australia's huge coal industry. As a painfully succinct post on the Australia Pacific blog put it:

"It is a total disaster. Rudd has shafted the Pacific. Pacific leaders went into the Pif calling for 45 per cent cuts in greenhouse pollution by 2020. They left agreeing to 50 per cent cuts by 2050. They went in with a strong position that global warming needs to be kept below 1.5 degrees, and finished up agreeing to 2 degrees. That is what bullying looks like.

"Rudd's media statement was a complete fraud. Crocodile tears for the Pacific. Oh the flowery rhetoric of urgency and dire need - matched with the politics of the big polluters."

Only four months to go until Copenhagen, and that's not good news.

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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