The Guest Blog

Guest blog post by Rokotamana Vitinaqailevu, Erasmus Mundus Scholarship Student, Papua New Guinea University of Technology.

For decades the issues of climate change was shrugged off as nothing more than a natural phenomenon. It took a long time to get the world to pay attention.
Not until we began to witness the irreversible loss and damage in our backyard did we start to wonder if there was more to it.
Now we observe nature reacting often harshly to unsustainable development and the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. But, from corporate giants in the fossil fuel industry, we still hear the propaganda that this is a myth.
When you consider what the planet is facing, it seems unthinkable that effective action at industry and corporate level has been underplayed for decades. Inaction shrouded in lies of unfathomable magnitude.
This has been going on from as early as the 1940s: cover ups, biased research, real risks craftily explained away. So-called independent researchers and think tank scholars who acted as double agents; paid large sums of money to misshape both the evidence and government policies. Many continue to do so.
How much truth will it take to put a stop to this?
After putting the pieces together, the Centre for International Environmental Law, a non-profit organisation, has found that big oil companies long ago had knowledge of carbondioxide (CO2) emissions and their potential impact on climate systems.
It has been reported they had the technology to combat CO2 emissions in the 1970s.
Making false claims, doing dodgy deals and issuing phony denials became basic tools in the fossil fuel world. And, for many decades, it worked. All to protect profit, not the planet. Should they be held accountable?
The Paris Climate Conference (COP 21 = 21st Conference of the Parties) last year saw some of the event’s 40 corporate sponsors attracting criticism for their close ties to the fossil fuel industry and related corporate giants.
I mean, actors driving the climate crisis were sponsoring the very forum supposed to come up with solution. This is akin to having a fox look after your hen house.
It is shocking that BusinessEurope’s active members; ExxonMobil and Shell were top sponsors. This group, BusinessEurope, unashamedly and openly took a stand against renewable energy across Europe. One wonders what’s the credibility of their arguments against clean energy and its technology.
And then there’s the likes of the producer of 131Mt of greenhouse gas, from coal projects, Engie; and BNP Paribas, which is one of the coal financiers in France.
It makes one wonder about the credibility and legitimacy of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The drama reflected badly on the development of appropriate responses to climate change.
Major emitters such as India, Russia and European Union are yet to ratify the Paris Agreement. As one of the two thresholds before enforcing the Paris Agreement is being met, major European countries are yet to be involved, including Brexit Britain, to meet the other threshold requirement.
How soon will EU policymakers make their ratification process? Will it allow member countries such as Poland, which relies heavily on coal-fired power plants to stall the agreement to approve ratification?
Will Pacific island governments allow this to continue? Will the interests of fossil fuel and corporate giants take precedence over the lives of millions threatened by climate change?
It is time our Pacific governments took charge and joined global action to demand a full investigation of such relationships and at least to insist that the fossil fuel industry and its hangers on are shut out of future climate talks.
But our small, fragile Pacific economies cannot win this alone. If our governments are not to succumb to bullying, we will need allies in the fight.
Scientific consensus on the impact of the fossil fuel industry on climate change is solid. We must expose the industrial and corporate tyranny and force this industry and its cohorts to foot the bill for loss and damage associated with climate change.
Just as the tobacco industry was slapped with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the same should be imposed on big oil and the fossil fuel industry. The aggressive approach of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the tobacco industry prioritised public health and safety over industrial profit.
According to WHO’s director general, Dr Margaret Chan, the goal is to make sure the tobacco industry goes out of business.
We must learn from WHO’s stand and do the same to bring to justice the big fossil fuel companies.
For Pacific island countries, our risk is great, our role is clear and our fight just has to get bigger. Goliath was slain by David.

(Mostly Edited by Keith Jackson)

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