India has come under heavy criticism for blocking the implementation of a World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement reached at Bali in December 2013.
Proponents celebrated the Bali “package” as a long-awaited achievement by the WTO, which had failed to reach a significant agreement since 1995. However, critics lamented that the Bali deal was skewed in the favour of developed nations.
A few months ago, I left my home in Adelaide and travelled up to Maules Creek, New South Wales. I’ve never been much of a wanderer, but when I heard that Whitehaven was working on the largest coal mine currently under construction in Australia in the middle of the Leard State Forest, I realised that things were pretty serious.
Australia’s Treasurer has wielded the hockey stick with great enthusiasm and inflicted many blows, but missed the goal of a stable and prosperous economy. However on an objective analysis I have to agree with him on the following: “We need to live within our means”, “We need to be sustainable”, “We don’t want to squander our children’s future” and there is a “moral dimension”.
He is not quite right about “the age of entitlement is over”. It isn’t; but it’s fair to at least head in that direction.
Federal deficits, creating green jobs, austerity vs stimulus packages; how do you balance it all out? There are some important lessons to be learned from Europe’s recent experience.
In issue 464 of the New Internationalist magazine, celebrated author Susan George gives a spirited lashing to European leadership, accusing it of being entirely subservient to the desires of finance and the largest corporations. “European leadership is brain-dead, ignorant of economics and needlessly committing economic suicide” she writes.
I figure you’re a decent chap. You’re quoted as saying: “We are focussed on growing our business responsibly, managing risks rather than taking them and approach our role in society with a heightened sense of duty and care towards our customers and the communities we serve.”
You’ve achieved that on one level. Your branch staff are some of the most efficient, knowledgeable, helpful and best-trained workers I’ve come across in retail banking. Well done.
But there’s a serious problem with ANZ activities on the national and international level. Consider these two questions:
Would you say it’s wrong to do things that are seriously harmful to the planet’s ecosystem?
Would you say it’s wrong to profit financially from doing things that are seriously harmful to the planet’s ecosystem?
So that’s the issue. Is it true that ANZ Bank continues to invest in fossil fuel exploration and extraction? Is it true that ANZ Bank and its investors continue to make profits from destroying the planet’s ecosystem?
Here’s a big thank you to the team from the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency who rounded off a solid year of tortuous negotiations with some progress at COP18 in Doha. Of course we’re disappointed that there’s such slow global action on the climate crisis that is unfolding, but we should still celebrate the huge effort being put in by Climate Change staff.
The tough reality is that within two decades we need to stop burning coal, gas and oil. We simply cannot accept the 4 to 6 degree temperature rise that is likely by the end of the century if we don’t move to a zero-emissions economy. But moving to zero-emissions won’t happen for as long as governments and international negotiations are in thrall to the fossil fuel industry. Continue reading →
Danny Dorling, The No-Nonsense Guide to Equality,
New Internationalist, Oxford, 2012, 176 pp, www.newint.org/books/
Reviewed by Frank Stilwell
New Internationalist has published a series of small books on controversial issues such as world population, world poverty, world food, world health and women’s rights. This latest ‘No-Nonsense Guide’ focuses on equality, making a strong case for this goal to be a much higher priority in public policy and strategies for social progress.
There is a long tradition of arguing for greater equality – in income, wealth, education, social opportunities and, of course, in human rights. One thinks, for example, of classics such as Richard Tawney’s Equality, the writings of British social reformer Richard Titmuss and the more recent books by Richard Wilkinson that describe the damaging social costs that arise from extreme economic inequalities. That these three writers are all called Richard is an odd coincidence – the more important thing that they have in common is a commitment to egalitarian social reform.
Clouds are never a good look at rallies for renewable energy. Nor is a light but constant drizzle, or the sight of a big, dirty old truck being used for a stage. Climate change activists are used to these minor ironies. They are also used – though not resigned – to continuing government inaction on an issue which enjoys massive public support for change as well as a near-complete scientific consensus.
All of these things – activists, government, a big truck, an energised public and, yes, appalling weather – came together on September 30th in Adelaide’s Rundle Park for a heartening intervention in the fight for more action on that moral challenge. Continue reading →
First up, I must confess my ‘interest’ in this topic. I am co-secretary of the WA Branch of the Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan, SAWA. Founded in Adelaide, there are now SAWA groups in every State. We raise money for several projects, including a Vocational Training Centre in Kabul which educates women in literacy, computing skills, handicraft skills and English. The only money we raise that does not go to our causes is the auditor’s fees and postage for the newsletter. Our partner organisation in Afghanistan is OPAWC, the Organization for Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities. Because of their vision for women’s empowerment, OPAWC staff receive regular death threats from the Taliban and other fundamentalist forces. They describe their program of ’empowerment’ as not ‘short-lived or humanitarian’ but focused on improving the capacities of women, who only require ‘a door to walk through, and we are the ones who could help them and open the door and let them walk through it’.
In her book, Raising my Voice, Malalai Joya talks of warlords, drug lords and NGO lords. In the recent ABC 4 Corners program on Afghanistan, one commentator claimed that less than 5 per cent of the money promised after September 11 has actually gone to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans. Continue reading →