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For the environment and against the profit economy

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Nick G.

To coincide with the 24th World Climate Conference (COP24) from 3 to 12 December 2018 in Katowice (Poland), December 8 has been designated an international environmental day of struggle by the International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organisations (ICOR).

Militant protests and activities will occur in Katowice led by ICOR member organisations (see ICOR statement here).

Australia is smack in the middle of a far-advanced and accelerated transition to a global environmental catastrophe.

Claims by the federal government that we are on track to meet the emissions targets of the Paris Climate Agreement are simply lies fed to keep the Australian public quiet by a prime minister who once thought it funny to brandish a lump of coal in parliament to prove that it had no kryptonite-like destructive powers.

On October 11 of this year, the “emissions-on-track” claim was overwhelmingly rejected by leading climate researchers.

The latest government data shows Australia's greenhouse emissions are at their highest level since 2011. And the World Climate Conference has been told that global emissions are set to reach a record high.

Griffith University emeritus professor Ian Lowe says the numbers don't bode well for Australia.

"They're very concerning. It's clear that we're not making the progress that was envisaged in the Paris agreement in 2015," Prof Lowe told ABC radio last week.

"It's clear that nations around the world aren't doing enough to slow down climate change."

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the top four in the past four years. Other tell-tale signs of climate change, including sea level rise, ocean heat and acidification and sea-ice and glacier melt continue, whilst extreme weather left a trail of devastation on all continents.

Adani fuels anger

With more than 138 fires burning in Queensland, Adani threw caution to the wind and announced that it would self-fund its proposed Carmichael coal mine, having failed to secure bank capital for the project. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal is a major contributing factor to the increasing frequency and severity of bushfires from Australia to Greece to California, yet the two major parliamentary political parties remain loyal to the market and prepared to let new coal mines go ahead.

Just the day before the Adani announcement, Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters introduced a Bill to prevent new coal mines in light of their vast contribution to climate change, but every single other Queensland Senator voted against her motion.

“The major parties are listening to their fossil fuel donors instead of the people right now,” she said, issuing a call for support for a Greens campaign against coal mining.

Adani is happy to keep the coal fires burning while whole parts of Queensland are ablaze. It beggars belief that the Federal Government decided the project did not need a full environmental impact assessment despite Adani requiring 12.5 billion litres of water from a river in drought-stricken Queensland.

Anti-mining group Lock the Gate Alliance described the move as "appalling and dangerous".

"This is another special deal for Adani that puts our water resources at risk during a terrible drought and hangs Queensland graziers and communities out to dry," spokesperson for Lock the Gate Alliance Carmel Flint said.

Putting the Bight on marine life

Independent oil spill modelling commissioned by the Wilderness Society over three years ago showed that an oil spill in the Great Australian Bight could be catastrophic for our marine life, fisheries, coastal industries and beaches. BP and Chevron withdrew their drilling plans after a mass campaign, but Norway’s Equinor, which professes to be “socially responsible” is pushing on.

This is despite Equinor’s own leaked oil spill modelling shows that a disaster in the Bight could be even worse than previously thought.

Under Equinor’s “worse case” modelling, an oil spill from its proposed drilling site in the Great Australian Bight could spread to beaches over 2500 kilometres away.

That means Bondi, Bells Beach and Tasmania’s World Heritage Area would all be in the firing line. Not only don’t we need Big Oil blasting the marine environment and sea floor with massive sound waves designed to penetrate thousands of metres under the ground, even less do we need them extracting climate-destroying fossil fuels for their own profit.

Biodiversity crisis

We have previously condemned the federal government for cutting its biodiversity and conservation staff by more than 60, or around one third of its total. 

Australia has a terrible record for species extinction.  In July of this year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature identified Australia as the fourth-worst country in the world for species extinction. It identified the number of extinct animal species in Australia at 40, with 106 also listed as critically endangered.

Environmentalists recently renewed calls for stronger nature protection laws, noting that populations of our threatened birds have decreased by half, on average, since 1985. Habitat loss, together with climate change and introduction of pest species are contributing to the loss. 

Shorebirds face the greatest danger. Many fly 6-7000 kilometres each year from the northern hemisphere to wetlands in Australia and New Zealand, and then back again. Among the areas here whose real or projected demise is making things worse are the Coorong and Lower Lakes (suffering through reduced water flows from the Murray-Darling Basin) and Toondah Harbour in Queensland (under threat of “development”).

The then Minister for Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg exercised his political discretion to progress approvals for the destructive Toondah Harbour mega-development in south-east Queensland. Josh Frydenberg was advised by his department on multiple occasions the Toondah Harbour apartment and marina proposal should be rejected outright because of the damage it would do to an internationally protected wetland. Frydenberg instead progressed the application from big property developer, the Walker Foundation.

Walker Corporation gave $225,000 to the Federal Liberal Party and $23,000 to the Queensland ALP in 2015-16 – the year the initial development proposal was submitted for national assessment.

Humane Society International Australia Chief Executive Officer, Erica Martin, said that in ignoring his department’s advice, Frydenberg had opened the door to removing international protections for the sake of development.

The development, if approved, will permanently destroy foraging habitat for a number of critically endangered species, including the Eastern Curlew, a migratory shorebird. It comprises 42 hectares of the Moreton Bay Ramsar-protected wetland. Toondah Harbour’s tidal flats are internationally significant for more than 50,000 water birds including 30 migratory species, loggerhead turtles and dolphins.

By way of contrast, the much-demonised Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea registered sanctuaries for migratory bird species  in Mundok County of south Phyongan Province and Rason City on the list of wetlands of international importance (Ramsar List) and acceded to the Ramsar Convention adopted in 1971.

Nearly 20,000 far-eastern curlews which are threatened with extinction worldwide make a stopover in the area.
Therefore, the area was recognized to be of great international protective value.

While Australian scientists and environmentalists are calling for stronger Australian biodiversity laws, the DPRK adopted the Nature Reserve Law of the DPRK in November 2009 to provide a legal guarantee for further protection of its biodiversity.

Active resistance is urgently needed!

More examples could easily be given of the growing environmental catastrophe and of parliamentarians’’ taunting refusal to act on it.
Australia-wide active resistance is urgently required against the attacks of the imperialist rulers of the world and their corporations upon humanity and nature  and for saving the natural environment from the profit economy.

Our most important conclusion is that the environmental movement has to become a society changing force.

For a social system that will work with nature to combat global warming, protect biodiversity and return control of water to the people, fight for national independence and socialism!


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