Monday, August 19, 2019

Australia world leader on fossil fuel exports

Australia is the third biggest exporter of fossil-related emissions, according to a new report. Analysis by the Australia Institute finds that the country is responsible for 7 per cent of global fossil fuel exports based on carbon dioxide potential, behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia. Australian coal exports make up 29 per cent of the global coal trade, and doubled between 2000 and 2015. Liquefied natural gas exports tripled over the same timeframe to 6 per cent of trade. On Sunday Tuvalu's prime minister Enele Sopoaga condemned Australian prime minister Scott Morrison's conduct at last week's Pacific Islands Forum, where Australia stood alone against a unanimous statement in support of phasing out coal. Sopoaga called Morrison’s attitude “neo-colonial” and questioned Australia's future in the 18-member body. He also threatened to withdraw Tuvalu from Australia's seasonal worker program in response to deputy prime minister Michael McCormack saying people from Pacific countries threatened by climate change would survive because “many of their workers come here and pick our fruit”.

Speaking of living for the now at the expense of the future: A new Grattan Institute report finds that today's young Australians are at risk of being the first generation in memory to have lower living standards than their parents.  The report Generation gap: ensuring a fair go for younger Australians found that older households’ wealth has grown by more than 50 per cent since 2004, but that the wealth of households headed by someone under 35 has hardly changed since 2004. Due to recent wage stagnation and rising under-employment, younger people are spending less on “non-essential items such as alcohol and clothing” and more on necessities such as housing than they did three decades ago. The report also found governments had to spend more on aged care and pensions, but there are fewer working-age people per retired person to pay for it, with the number of 15-64 year-old Australians for every person aged 65 or older dropping from 7.4 in the mid-1970s to 4.4 in 2014-15, and projected to fall further to 3.2 in 2054-55. The report noted that policies offering generous superannuation tax breaks exacerbated the situation. “Working-age Australians are underwriting the living standards of older Australians to a much greater extent than the baby boomers did for their forebears, straining the generational bargain to breaking point,” said lead author Danielle Wood

On the subject of breaking points: China's ambassador to Australia has told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that the Morrison government should not interfere in its affairs by supporting the “violent radicals” in Hong Kong. Ambassador Cheng Jingye warned that any effort to “mess up” the former British outpost would fail. The comments come after more than 1.7 million pro-democracy protesters gathered en masse at Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island on Sunday, one of the largest rallies since the protests began about three months ago.

In sport: The second Ashes men’s cricket Test has ended in a draw, with Australia surviving a late flurry of wickets from England to end the fifth and final day on 6-154. Steve Smith, who was felled by a bouncer on Sunday, failed a morning concussion test, with his replacement Marnus Labuschagne top scoring for the visitors with 59 to ensure Australia maintained a 1-0 series lead after two Tests. 

Booing Adam Goodes
Adam Goodes’s AFL career was played at the intersection of race and politics. Stan Grant on what his story says about white Australia.


“Even more remarkable is the fact that all across the political landscape, people are suddenly crossing the lines of ideology and party solidarity on the question of China. Namely, how Australia should approach its relationship with the rising superpower under the leadership of President Xi.” 


“Early one morning in July 2017, thick toxic smoke and ash started billowing from a waste recycling centre at Coolaroo, a suburb in Melbourne’s north. Massive stockpiles of plastic and paper were ablaze. Firefighters battled to control the fire, while residents of 115 homes nearby were evacuated, with many suffering nausea and breathing difficulties due to the smoke ... there had been a number of other recent fires at the same waste centre, including one earlier that year. But this fire was unprecedented in its size; it burned for nearly two weeks.”


“It takes all of three minutes for Gabriella Cohen to disarm me with compliments. First, my perfume: she leans in to my pulse points, eyes closed. ‘You smell really good. What is that?’ I can’t recall the name of the shop but promise to send her a link. ‘No,’ she says, ‘I don’t want to get it. It’s your thing. I can’t.’ Then: ‘You have amazing eyes. They make me want to cry.’ It’s a nice way to begin a Thursday morning.”


“The prime minister will urge the public sector to prioritise service delivery for ‘quiet Australians’ who are not represented in Canberra by ‘vested and organised interests’ such as corporations ... ‘There is strong evidence that the “trust deficit” that has afflicted many Western democracies over recent years stems in part from a perception that politics is very responsive to those at the top and those at the bottom, but not so much to those in the middle,’ Morrison says.”


“If Scott Morrison is serious about governing for ‘the quiet Australians’ then he needs to turn down the volume of big business vested interests that drown out the public interest. Banning corporate donations would be a great place to start. Recent figures from the Australian Electoral Commission showed that more than a million dollars in direct political donations from the fossil fuel industry was showered on politicians within a single year - and that was before the federal election.”


“For decades, the transnational behemoth had tried to become the top-selling soda in Peru. Yet it never managed to surpass a locally beloved brand, Inca Kola. A brew the Chicago Tribune once described as ‘radioactive yellow’ with ‘a bubble-gum bouquet,’ and which Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges labeled ‘an implausible drink,’ it is one of the only regional sodas Coke never managed to overtake.”


Max Opray
is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.