Letters to
the editor

No more pretending

The carefully sculpted consensus statement from COP28 is a tiny step forward when massive strides are urgently needed. The articles by Mike Seccombe (“Emails reveal Labor caved in to Santos”, December 16-22) and Royce Kurmelovs (“COP dust-up”) show what the world is facing in trying to constrain, let alone reduce, greenhouse gas emissions. It is now clear global heating will run well past 2 degrees as the big fossil fuel producers manoeuvre to protect their profits at the expense of the long-term equilibrium of the only known life-bearing planet in the universe. The mealy-mouthed noises from Labor politicians as they kowtow to the dictates of fossil fuel producers are despicable. It’s a giant game of pretend. It won’t work. We have simply run out of time.

– Peter Barry, Marysville, Vic

Forward thinking

Royce Kurmelovs’ piece on the recently wound-up Dubai COP was informative. There seems to be a glaring omission though, in my opinion: minister Chris Bowen’s wording, and I’d presume the United Nations’ understanding, goes: “if we are to keep 1.5C alive, fossil fuels have no ongoing role to play in our energy systems”. Why is there no mention of the fact the planet will most likely warm by 1.5 degrees by or around 2030? And there is a rather large lag in the climate system, meaning that temperatures won’t actually stop rising for decades after emissions flatline and start going down (fingers crossed). We should be acting at emergency speed now. Has the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change COP system had its day? Why are fossil fuel lobbyists, or even representatives, allowed in these negotiations? Don’t any of these legit attendees have kids?

– Brown Plarre, Brunswick, Vic

Transition first

Efforts to combat climate change by avoiding the development of new gas fields must consider the timing of such actions to prevent unintended consequences. The key lies in establishing renewable alternatives before halting gas production. An abrupt shutdown could force consumers to turn to alternatives such as coal or liquefied natural gas (LNG) from less environmentally conscious sources such as Russia, which will result in higher global emissions. Locally, in places such as New South Wales, forgoing the development of their gas resources has led to the construction of an LNG import terminal, which has higher associated emissions due to the energy-intensive liquefaction process than if the gas was produced locally. To truly mitigate global emissions, a transition to renewables must precede the phasing out of gas resources.

– Don McMillan, Paddington, Qld

A different path

The long saga of the Bruce Lehrmann defamation trial (Rick Morton, “ ‘Please don’t make me look like a cheap tabloid journalist’ ”, December 16-22) should cause us all to reflect on the role, number and influence of political staffers at all levels of government. What’s become increasingly clear is the key role staffers play in the balance of factional power between members of parliament and the pressures and power at play between MPs, staffers and the party machines. Doubtless this is replicated in the ALP. What’s a whole lot less obvious is how the employment of staffers benefits the Australian community as a whole. Could it be that a pool of independent public servants randomly allocated to MPs while in Canberra may actually provide both better decisions and a greater level of professionalism from all involved? Of course, it will never happen, as the gravy train from staffer to MP is one most MPs themselves have travelled on, and their loyalty to the respective party machine is much greater than their commitment to good government.

– Colin Hesse, Marrickville, NSW

Veto power

The use of the veto by the United States on the Israel–Gaza war has again demonstrated the impotence of the UN Security Council to act decisively on important world needs for peace and to stop inhumane conflicts. This has been talked about for decades, but one or more of the five permanent members (the US, China, Russia, Britain and France) are not volunteering to give up their veto power. Action should proceed, if necessary (as occurred with the League of Nations), by terminating the present UN formed at the end of World War II by the victors, and setting up a reformed and global representative UN that enables a Security Council to pass resolutions on, say, a 75 per cent majority vote of an expanded permanent group. Nine permanent members could constitute the number required for passing a Security Council motion, while more than three permanent non-supporting members or non-voting members would constitute the equivalent of a veto. Australia could emulate Doc Evatt’s UN dedication and initiate advocacy or action, perhaps through the UN General Assembly.

– Geoff Henkel, Farrer, ACT

Temporary victory

Bob Brown’s riveting article on the likely demise of the critically endangered swift parrot makes for essential reading (“On the extinction of the swift parrot”, December 16-22). The Bob Brown Foundation had a belated victory on December 18 before the Tasmanian Supreme Court, with logging stopped in the Kermandie Divide forest pending an injunction hearing in late January. This doesn’t mean the end of logging, oh no, yet Anthony Albanese has the power to do just that.

– Virginia Barnett, Mount Waverley, Vic

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on December 23, 2023.

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