Mike's Minute: Another irrelevant Pacific Leaders Forum

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thursday, 15 August 2019, 9:21AM

What makes the Pacific Leaders Forum largely irrelevant is that nothing really gets achieved. There is a lot of talk - so much talk. And this year, once again the obsession with climate change is front and centre. 

Perhaps what is different these past couple of years is the Chinese / US influence which has sparked a change in view from this part of the world.

Scott Morrison and Winston Peters seem in some sort of lock-step to try and spend as much time as possible in their grills, looking to reassert our influence and remind them we were here first and have been the good guys all along.

Most though, see this for what it is, a land, influence and investment and power-grab by global players with cheque books we can only dream of.

We hand out aid, while the Chinese hand out buildings, wharves, boats, planes and presidential retreats - mostly on a loan system.

And that's why the Chinese are smart, soft loans that may or may not get paid back, but ultimately achieve what the Chinese want them to achieve, power.

But back to climate change. The trick I really want to see, is just when do they wake up to the fact that although every year for years now, they’ve banged on about it - nothing has changed.

Our PM in an interview before she left, seemed to indicate her heroic call made in the early days of her premiership has been backed down on. She suggested we would  be dealing with climate refugees. People whose atoll was swamped by rising seas and had nowhere to live, they would end up here as our refugee-type guests.

This took a lot of people by surprise, given climate refugees were a recent invention, and no one really knew what it meant or how you qualified to be one. And if we were taking them, was it part of our established quota? Or were we adding them on top? Well, that's off apparently. The islanders don't want to be refugees. The want to fight to save their country.

All very heroic , but all very futile. Even if you accept climate change and its man made element is adding to the Pacific's troubles, nothing, nothing is stopping it.

Not our Zero Carbon Bill, not the farmers in the ETS, not Australia stopping iron ore mining tomorrow, not a quadrupling of EV sales, not every single university taking meat off their campus menus and not every council in the country declaring a climate emergency.

Climate change is one of two things. Natural - if it is, they can talk all they want, it's pointless. What will happen is, what will happen.

Or, if it's man made or partially man made, they can also talk all they want - between now and the water being ankle-deep in Tuvalu, we aren't turning it round.

This isn't a tap, or a leak, or a busted piece of infrastructure. This isn't a "thing" you hire some people to fix.

Even if you are fully onboard with the whole climate bandwagon, this is an intergenerational fight to change minds, attitudes and cultures. It's been building for years and will take decades to turn, if in fact they ever do.

So, yet another 48 hours in a bright shirt saying the same stuff you did last year, which isn't advancing the cause. 

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