Australian pride is restored. This is no small accomplishment, considering the depths to which we sank in 2009, when then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd offered this wince-making speech to that year’s United Nations climate conference in Denmark:
“Before I left Australia, I was presented with a book of handwritten letters from a group of six-year-olds. One of the letters is from Gracie. Gracie is six. ‘Hi,’ she wrote. ‘My name is Gracie. How old are you?’ Gracie continues, ‘I am writing to you because I want you all to be strong in Copenhagen. Please listen to us as it is our future.’ I fear that at this conference, we are on the verge of letting little Gracie down.”
We were a different country back then, outsourcing economic policy to babies and actually admitting it to the world. Happily, things have changed. For this year’s UN climatefest in Warsaw, Poland, Tony Abbott’s government didn’t even bother to send the environment minister, much less the Prime Minister and his pre-teen fan mail.
Instead we sent some delegates who quite properly treated the whole exercise as a lark, much to the consternation of Gaia’s little Gracies. “They wore T-shirts and gorged on snacks throughout the negotiation,” fumed Ria Voorhaar, a spokeswoman for the Climate Action Network. “That gives some indication of the manner they are behaving in.”
Back in 2009, Rudd negotiated pointlessly for 40 hours, grabbing just one hour of sleep. This year’s Australian delegates don’t go for that sort of nonsense. “They made an intervention that late-night negotiations were bad for health and should be stopped,” complained Voorhaar.
And the meetings were indeed halted, with many blaming the snack-chomping Aussies and their t-shirts. “Their behaviour caused over 130 developing nations to abandon discussions on the controversial issue of climate compensation at 4am,” seethed Sophie Yeo of the activist group Responding to Climate Change. “It is one thing to be tired in a negotiation meeting, another to turn up in pyjamas,” huffed EU negotiator Paul Watkinson on Twitter. “Respect matters.”
With all due respect, the EU and the UN can shove it.
The Australians’ fine performance in Warsaw recalls the great Ipswich Meat Battle, when Queensland abattoir workers set a new global standard for environmental negotiations. One April morning in 2006, the workers arrived at their abattoir to find animal activists had chained themselves to the facility’s killing area.
Rather than give up and go home, however, the industrious workers advanced on the chained idiots. As the ABC reported: “The 12 protesters got a fright when meatworkers took matters into their own hands and used angle grinders to cut the chains off the activists so they could get back to work.”
Police are usually called to deal with protesters. In this case, the protesters actually called police. “The workers, they were standing around cheering and whooping and yelling and making lewd comments,” protester Angie Stephenson wailed. “We had to call the police and tell them to get out here straight away.”
“We begged for the police,” confirmed another protester, Patty Mark, who said that the abattoir owner joined about 40 of his workers in removing the stupid activists.
“They were yelling and screaming, and he got the angle grinder himself and started to cut right near where we were chained,” pity Patty pleaded.
“It was terrifying. We didn’t have protection on our eyes. The sparks were flying.”
If ever we send any further delegations to UN climate talks, these boys should lead the way. “Like, this guy was basically coming at us with an angle grinder, so there were people shaking, there were people in tears,” said protester Noah Hannibal. “And he was just saying, you know, ‘I’m enjoying this.’ “
That’s the spirit. The UN better get used to it.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).