December 10, 2012

The Australian's deplorable headline

Doha was disappointing, its achievements derisory. But that is no excuse for The Australian to demean and denigrate the Climate Change Conference's diminutive results even further and score a few political points into the bargain.

More than a few of the paper's deluded readers are doubtless still doggedly disclaiming the validity of carbon pricing while denying the demonstrable evidence of anthropogenic climate change. Now they can denounce another despicable tax that The Australian rather deviously, if not deceitfully, denotes is coming their way. The paper deviates from the truth in an attempt to divide the nation and discourage its readers from supporting their Government's efforts to deal internationally with the dreadful prospect of a devastatingly dysfunctional climate in a few decades.

The details of the 'loss and damage' proposals from Doha are disparate, but this is the first time developing nations have received a declaration – included in an internationally binding document – of financial help from wealthy countries to deal with the dire consequences of climate change. There is as yet no structure in place to raise funds – they may come from existing aid or disaster-relief packages – and there is certainly no mention of 'compensation', a word The Australian sprinkles irresponsibly through this morning's lead article. Years of protracted debate lie ahead, but this first step is a positive, albeit a desperately small one. May it not prove to be a piece of driftwood, cast to drowning nations in an already rising ocean.

There was no new commitment to cutting emissions at Doha. A dozen countries have abandoned their original commitments, so the vote to continue the existing Protocol was depressingly inadequate. China determinedly clings to its 'developing' nation status – devoid of emissions commitments. Many millions of its citizens may still live in poverty, but it is the world's largest emitter and will soon be the largest economy. This is just plain daft. We live in a different world from the 1990s: the daunting prospects all nations face if we can't delimit emissions means everyone must be part of an action plan. Do we hear any dissenting voices about this anomaly at The Australian? Of course not. China is a dominant source of much of this nation's wealth and resource investment, as well as the major player in Asia-Pacific world. No one dare utter a depreciatory word.

These are not times for daydreaming or dawdling but decisiveness. This may mean demolishing a decadent lifestyle, disagreeable to most. The media have a duty, however, to rise above dogma: to be didactic, definitive and diligent. This morning's headline was bloody diabolical.

For a more measured round-up of decisions at Doha, may I suggest:

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