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Australia to set up new security college as Pacific focus sharpens

Climate change isn’t the big Pacific issue; it’s regional cooperation

PAUL OATES

GOLD COAST, QLD - One part of the answer to the big problems of the Pacific – like climate change, Chinese expansionism or greater prosperity - would be better co-operation between residents of our region.

Anyone like Australia trying to be ‘Big Brother’ will only enhance feelings of subdued resentment.

A better approach is be to have the Pacific Islands Forum consider climate change as part of the whole Pacific picture. ‘Together we stand, divided we fall’ seems to have morphed into ‘divide and conquer’.

While ever climate change is hived off from the other important issues affecting the lives of Pacific peoples, it will always provide leverage against Australia, due to its reserves of energy and export revenues based on extracted resources.

That the Pacific islands have not been blessed with such great resources and Australia has should not be a matter of contest.

After all, looking at the region in a more lateral way, if Australia wasn’t able to export raw materials, it wouldn’t have the resources to help Pacific nations.

Climate change will occur whether we like it or not. If Australia, which only produces a small carbon signature on a world scale, stopped using coal and exporting coal, nations that still use oil, gas and coal wouldn’t stop using their own or another’s resources.

Would Papua New Guinea stop producing and selling its oil and gas and stand together in solidarity with Australia against climate change?

Some significant problems continually being swept under a tapa are the dramatic population increases in some nations and the subsequent impact on available fresh water and food resources.

Fish stocks that small nations depend on could be better protected from outsiders who are guilty of plundering these vital resources without any significant recompense – or none at all in most cases.

Valuable timber forests could be better protected from foreign loggers.

The health of Pacific peoples could be better organised on a regional basis rather than the current slap dash approach.

And developing regional preparedness for future natural disasters like tsunamis and cyclones could be a common responsibility.

A Pacific regional corruption watchdog with real teeth and resources could be a useful initiative.

Collective responsibility, leadership and accountability for these and other matters affecting our region as a whole would benefit if a Pacific regional government along the lines of the European Community was established. It would have far more clout to deal with such critical issues.

Has anyone actually thought laterally about raising these concerns in addition to the present media frenzy over climate change?

Is there anyone out there listening and actually thinking outside the square?

Comments

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Paul Oates

The NZ Deputy PM has come out swinging at the Pacific Islands Forum pointing out that the funds Australia is giving to the Pacific are no doubt originating from the sale of coal, etc. to China.

It's like the old parable of killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Maybe we just need to better plan for a future where the sea will rise no matter what Australia does? If King Canute couldn't stop the waves, how are we to stop everyone else in the world using fossil fuel and wood when that's all they have to keep warm and cook their food?

Are those who traditionally practice cremating their dead to now be told to stop this tradition and find other means of disposing of dead bodies?

Just because Australia has a large land mass doesn't mean that most of it isn't uninhabitable desert and can't support a large population.

The increasing populations in the Pacific nations often seem to have a correlation with the decreasing land and resources.

Let's now start planning for the future. If we are indeed family, then we should be accepting the closure of nonviable Pacific nations and transplanting their populations to where they can go. Currently, Australia is suggesting new arrivals move to the rural areas where resources are somewhat scarce and life styles are vastly different to mostly warm Pacific Islands. We therefore need to start planning now before the situation becomes even more urgent.

Why can't the leaders of Tuvalu and Kiribati for example, see that? Maybe PNG's climate and opportunities might be more suitable if those affected were to be asked where they want to be relocated?

William Dunlop

Phil in your travel's have you been to China and seen the extent of its daily output of pollution emissions.

I have - over a 2-1/2 year period when I lived in Shunde, Guangdong Provence, in 2009-11. And today very little has changed.

Much worse than the London smog of the late 1950s and 1960s.

It's coming from coal fired power stations which also supplied power to blast furnaces.

The coal fuelling this massive pollution is supplied from China's own extensive coal mines.

No one complained. I wonder why. Perhaps the fear of the Gulag.

Former Chairman Mao was a Stalinist. What is different now is a new wufwuf with an unlimited money printing press but still the same fleas. Slainte.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I agree with what you've said Paul except for one thing.

"Climate change will occur whether we like it or not. If Australia, which only produces a small carbon signature on a world scale, stopped using coal and exporting coal, nations that still use oil, gas and coal wouldn’t stop using their own or another’s resources."

This is a much too handy cop out. Everyone should be doing their part to tackle climate change whether their efforts are big or small.

We shouldn't be taking such a defeatist attitude just because big emitters aren't pulling their weight.

What we should all be doing is transitioning to renewables as quickly as possible while trying to contain activities like deforestation and land clearing.

As for selling our coal and other carbon emitting products that is a real dilemma. I've no answer to that one.

I do agree with your point, however, about PNG being an exporter of fossil fuels that should be considering its position.

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