In a fluorescent conference room, not far from where Beethoven once wrote some of the world’s most epic symphonies, Australia’s Patrick Suckling barely raised his voice as he defended his government’s embarrassing record on climate, even while enduring a hot bbq grilling from Swiss counterparts.
After proudly presenting Australia’s efforts to reduce its carbon emissions by 0.5% based on 1990 levels, the negotiators from Switzerland, the UK and Angola peppered the Australian climate team with rolled-eyed-inqueries about whether they had “really considered the cost of inaction”.
Later in the meeting, Denmark reported on its aim to reduce emissions by 70% by 2030, and Finland talked about how it will become climate neutral by 2030.
“Have we looked at the cost of inaction?”, Ambassador Suckling retorted, with a shrug.
“Well we are taking action, so I’m not sure that’s relevant”, as if embodying his Trump-ian alter ego,
In fact, he proudly retorted; “we are going to exceed our 2020 commitment…it doesn’t matter where you look in Australia, businesses are actively engaged in climate change”, peering down through his spectacles as if the response itself was beneath him.
Clearly he isn’t looking toward the gov. approved, 30km long, multi-billion dollar Carmichael coal mine. The neoliberal love-child of an everincreasingly nationalist Asia-pacific region.
If built, the coal from the mine would add between 77 to 120 million tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere every year, and open up opportunities for successive mines that could easily double Australia’s current emissions.
For those of you potentially concerned at this development, don’t worry. Ambassador Suckling is “actively listening” to civil society groups in Australia and is more than able to “harness all the capabilities and strengths we have in civil society”.
“Australia has one of the most active civil society groups in the world and enormous space for civil society not only to act but find the best possible solutions”.
I imagine he was thinking of Booker prize-winning Australian author Richard Flanagan who has planned to risk arrest to blockade the Carmichael mine, or the defunded Nobel-prize-winning scientists who work in the Australian Climate Council.
He may have even been thinking of Susan Dereby, the mayor Darebin. The great little council in Melbourne was the first in the world to declare a climate emergency, back in 2016.
Today, as Sydney’s Clover Moore declared a Climate Emergency on behalf of the city, Susan told the New York Times that the “people in our community are very disappointed by leadership by other levels of governorship.”
Not to worry Susan. I’m sure Mr. Suckling, Australia’s Ambassador to the Environment, is listening.