We all know Aussie’s have a worldwide recognition of being the life of the party. In the case of the United Nations Climate Conference (COP19) however, it’s not for the reasons we would like.
I am sad to report on the general consensus at COP19 of Australia’s rapidly deteriorating international reputation on climate action. Not only has Australia, along with Canada, been likened to a ‘wrecking ball’ at the negotiations which have almost come to an end, but new reports also show Australia has slipped to the bottom of international rankings on carbon emission reductions and has become the highest emitter per capita in western nation terms. Not to mention our four Fossil of the Day awards, given for obstructing negotiations, which means Australia is in a good position to take home ‘Fossil of the Year’, the equivalent of winning a Razzie in the film industry instead of an Oscar.
Another big let down of the Australian performance at COP19 is the failure of the Australian Government to send a minister. If you signed our 1 Million Women petition, then like us, you hoped they would reconsider this decision. Ministers started to arrive yesterday for the final important days of the conference yet sadly none of them were Australian.
If a minister was present, as John Connor from the Climate Institute wrote in a COP19 update about the drivers behind our negative positioning at the conference, perhaps they may have…
“Proudly shared how our carbon market supported other policies in reducing emissions from covered sectors and boosted renewable energy. He or she would highlight that inflation impacts were as predicted, and that household support measures funded by carbon price revenue meant most households were better off. And, finally, that business decisions incorporated the reality of firmly entrenched carbon prices and limits”
They may have been able to save at least a little Australian credibility on climate action, which is falling into pieces with help from the media. It’s easy for negative media coverage to spin out of control, which brings me to my next question, why haven’t there been any stories about incredibly positive Australian related things happening here at COP19, like oh, I dunno, maybe on the two inspiring Australia-founded initiatives that are being awarded prestigious recognition for action on climate change - 1 Million Women and Pollinate Energy – who have been chosen as Momentum for Change lighthouse activities and described as ‘beacons of hope’ for the future.
It could be because there’s hardly any Australian media here. Thankfully online media source The Verb are here covering the in’s and out’s of the conference and also The Guardian Australia, but where is the coverage from other major Australian media? 1 Million Women will be receiving it’s special award tonight at a celebratory event which will be attended by Ban Ki-Moon and Christiana Figueres, we had hoped an Australian minister may be present, but in truth it just represents what the 1 Million Women cause is all about, taking climate action into our own hands and not waiting for governments.
The women we have already met in Warsaw and the international opportunities arising for 1 Million Women are so exciting, that we are rising above the politics. We are spreading the 1 Million Women message to the world, and if you read Nat’s speech (1MW Founder) which she delivered here yesterday, you will feel the passion and I can tell you everyone in the room felt it too.
These Warsaw negotiations, whether they end with massive goals decided upon or not, have for the first time raised the question of gender in climate change to the critical level it deserves.
On Gender Day, 1 Million Women attended the launch of the Environment and Gender Index (EGI), a project of the IUCN which monitors gender equality and women’s empowerment in the environmental arena. This is an invaluable resource to further the importance of the women’s role in action on climate change. As youth representatives of 1 Million Women here at COP19, Shea Hogarth, Tilly Hunt and myself were extremely thankful to Lorena Aguilar, IUCN's Senior Gender Advisor, for mentioning us specifically and acknowledging that this is the world older generations are handing us and that youth must be involved at these important events and negotiations.
The whole 1 Million Women team signed the IWECI declaration formed by women of the world calling for urgent climate action, and on Gender Day Nat and Tara participated in a special filmed reading of the declaration. Mary Robinson also stopped by to read a line.
From bamboo bikes, to eco-houses, rentable solar-farms, women graduating from extreme poverty to poverty, low-smoke stoves, solar-lights, women-focused farming and more, the Momentum for Change lighthouse activities really have stood out as examples of real and replicable action on climate change. While the discussions continue, I can say we are so over-the-top, out-of-control proud that 1 Million Women was chosen to be amongst this group of seventeen leaders on action.
Nothing can take away from the value and recognition given here to action-takers and also to women, so let the negotiations go on, hopefully with some positive outcomes, and we will be here, doing what we do; leading the way on climate action.
Follow Bronte on Twitter: @brontehogarth