France, COP 21: Hunt’s carelessness forces Australia into damage control | RenewEconomy

France, COP 21: Hunt’s carelessness forces Australia into damage control

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Hunt sends Australian negotiating team into damage control over remarks on key Paris text; the $1.2 trillion investment shift from funds; Is Australia ready for climate refugees; and Shell ad compares wind and solar to a lonely woman, saying they need a man/natural gas.

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Australian environment minister Greg Hunt ran the gauntlet of committing a significant faux pas on Tuesday, forcing the Australian delegation into damage control for fear of derailing the critical Paris climate talks.

Hunt strayed from strict diplomatic discipline at a news conference in the afternoon – on the otherwise benign topic of a new document outlining Australia’s national climate resilience and adaptation strategy, and Australia’s contribution to “blue carbon”.

But the big problem came when Hunt was asked about progress of negotiations and the development of a new text that will form the basis of a Paris agreement in more than a week’s time.

This is a highly sensitive issue. The G77 in particularly, is paranoid about the prospect of a text being held in reserve by the French hosts, as it was to disastrous effect by the Danes in Copenhagen, and in negotiations in Bonn just a few weeks ago.

France has insisted that there is “no plan B”, i.e. no hidden text, and said it would work with whatever it receives from the co-chairs of the main negotiation stream this weekend. This language has been scrupulously observed by the Australian delegation.

Until this afternoon, when Hunt invited speculation of the hidden text by saying that the French were already consulting with other parties with the view of forming a text over the weekend. He described the work of the negotiating stream as a sort of “options paper”.

Nothing would be more sure of inflating the emotions of the G77 and deepening the divide between the developed and developing world. RenewEconomy and The Guardian sought confirmation from the French negotiating team, who again flatly denied the existence of a different text.

The Australian team was then  into damage control, sparking a flurry of calls that basically conceded that Hunt had misspoken , and had intended only to convey that the text would ‘evolve” from that presented by the co-chairs and   text is more an options paper than a text.

foyster cartoon

Hunt had earlier insisted that Australia was working a s a broker between two parties over the inclusion of a reference to a 1.5C target – demanded by more than 100 countries but resisted by large developed and developing economies – and the definition of what decarbonisation or carbon neutrality might mean and when.

That may well be the role that Australia would like to be seen playing. But Hunt’s carelessness, or as the French might politely say, a mal entendu, risked great harm in talks that are already on a knife-edge and racing into a tight deadline. He should have known better.

Is Australia ready for climate refugees?

A new study suggests that migration is already occurring in Pacific islands such as Tuvalu and Kiribati, with up to one quarter saying climate change was a factor.

It also found that more than 70 per cent of households in Kiribati and Tuvalu and 35% in Nauru felt that migration would be a likely response if droughts, seal level rise or floods worsened. But only a quarter of households in these countries, believe they have the financial means to migrate. That means the potential for refugees.

When asked about this, Hunt said: “That is something we will deal with as and when it arises. We will seek to avoid that problem for sake of environment and the sake of humanity. I don’t want to pre-empt or set out a position.”

The $1.2 trillion investment switch in the lead up to Paris 

It seems that global investment funds have got the message about the importance of the Paris climate talks, and the inevitability of a big switch from fossil fuel investment to clean technologies that can usher in a decarbonised world.

In the 10 weeks before the Paris climate talks began on Monday, some 100 institutions representing $US800 million ($A1.1 trillion) made a commitment to divest from fossil fuels. Not all of those funds, mind you, but a portion. But that is a significant start.

According to two organisation co-ordinating the campaign, and Divest-Invest, this takes the total in the last 12 months to $US3.4 trillion ($A4.7 trillion) – representing an extraordinary shift in investment funds from old and polluting businesses to new, clean technologies.

And these businesses are not just doing this as a simply moral decision. As the Bank of England governor Mark Carney said earlier this year, there is a real risk of trillions of dollars of investments becoming stranded assets as climate change issues and the plunging cost of renewable energy technologies turn conventional business model upside down. (See Jon Walter’s story for more details here).

Shell’s sexist ad compares solar and wind to lonely women

This ad below has to be seen to be believed. Posted just over a month ago on Shell’s “make the future” marketing page, this 90 second video compares wind and solar to a lonely women, unable to cope when the wind dies and the sun sets.

What women really need, the ad says, is a man – reliable, predictable and long lasting. Shell calls the man “natural gas” and dubs the video “a beautiful relationship”. The film is in French, with English sub-titles, presumably to highlight the romance of it all, and in anticipation of the Paris climate talks.

It is quite breath-taking – not just the sexism, but the gratuitous comparisons. One, that a woman cannot function without a man, and that wind and solar need natural gas. I showed it to a few people who couldn’t quite believe their eyes.

Giles Parkinson is in Paris for COP21 and will be filing daily. Greg Foyster’s cartoons can be found at

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  1. Rob G 5 years ago

    Terrible ad, lucky its pretty boring and to drawn out to really hold anyones attention. Honestly Greg Hunt’s bumbling missteps are far more entertaining. His climate dishonesty continues to shine on through.

  2. lin 5 years ago

    I wonder how long it will take for someone to send up Shell’s awful video – something a bit more honest, like the FF and nuclear gang attacking renewable energy clockwork orange style.

  3. Chris Fraser 5 years ago

    haha … surely Shell will get the Daily (misogynist) Dinosaur for this effort.

  4. Mark 5 years ago

    I think she’d be better off is his name was “Batteries”

  5. Alen T 5 years ago

    $ 4.7 trillion in 12 months,…that is an amazing amount.

  6. Mazar 5 years ago

    Terrible ad…and as inline with the misleading messaging the fossil fuel industry espouses….the ad omits that he farts in bed and it smells badly …lol

  7. MaxG 5 years ago

    Orwell / Shell here we come… what a bunch of misfits.

  8. Marc Hudson 5 years ago

    Hi Giles, the advert is indeed extraordinary. I blogged about it here –

  9. Marc Hudson 5 years ago

    And as for Evans saying we will deal with the refugee issue when it arrives?! wtaf? Gareth Evans, in 1990, was writing about the likelihood of climate refugees….

  10. John Saint-Smith 5 years ago

    Hunt is a shocker! Turnbull should re-call him before he wrecks the conference. It is far too important a program to be left to a man who has spent the last two years denying the science he claims to embrace.
    As for that Shell ad, I wonder how ‘energy efficiency’ would be represented in this abysmal ménage? A personal vibrator perhaps?

  11. Michael Anthony 5 years ago

    The mass migration of funds out of old energy investments into renewables is probably the most important discussion that needs to take place, especially in Australia where so much of our super is invested in these assets, how do we migrate?

  12. john 5 years ago

    What a pathetic effort
    Deplorable not exactly what one would expect of a top company or that is correct it is a Carbon company so I guess this is typical bottom dweller effort.

  13. RobbertBobbert GDQ 5 years ago

    ‘A new study suggests that migration is already occurring in Pacific islands such as Tuvalu and Kiribati, with up to one quarter saying climate change was a factor.’

    What new study?
    Put a name to it.
    The authoritative studies on Pacific Nations and GW Climate are Kench 2010 and 2014. Both clearly state that Pacific nations are showing resilience and growth and it is valid from a scientific view to be optimistic about their future.
    Kench is a Professor at Auckland Uni. Environment Unit and both studies are peer reviewed, The Conversation April 17 2014.
    Climatologist Simon Donner. Scientific America is another qualified in this area. Pacific Institute of Public Policy. 11/05/15

    Stop your denial of the validated research and peer reviewed studies in this Pacific issue.

    Try this from online BBC 5/11/2015
    A reporter went to Kiribati to check out climate claiming refugee Mr Teitiona. His claim rejected by the relevant court

    ‘…What they ( the court) didn’t accept was that the dangers were imminent…’

    In regards migration or further climate refugees:
    ‘…But there hasn’t been a dramatic exodus just yet. The New Zealand immigration department sets aside 75 places a year in a lottery for migrants from Kiribati, and at the moment it can’t fill them.
    President Anote Tong suggests that is because things aren’t desperate enough yet.
    “It’s not a critical issue yet. I think if there are people who migrate now, I hope they would do it out of choice. But as to the question, is it so critical that people would be regarded as refugees? My answer would be no, not at this point in time.”
    And yet, the annihilation of his country is something he discusses more than any other head of government.’

    So a massive exodus is likely yet New Zealand cannot get 75 people tp grab an automatic winning lotto ticket to be able to legally enter a county of first world status.
    And their President who cries Climate Wolf at the drop of a hat tells us that it is not a critical issue yet.
    Who to believe.
    The Science and research. Peer reviewed.
    The Court and its ‘not imminent’ ruling based on science and research including sea level rise data.
    The people who could apply to leave to go to a top notch cultural and financial nation but choose not to even apply.
    The President.

    Or this sorry excuse for a journalist report of which its Climate Bias Slip is showing badly.

  14. neroden 5 years ago

    This is going to be a serious backfire for Shell. The sexism alone will get them in big trouble.

  15. RobertVincin 5 years ago

    Even worse he walked away from trading $160Bn in CO2 offsets into soil sinks like PRC India and engaging 200,000 new jobs and exporting multi Bn$ 100s in food exports. Here is what PRC is doing
    and the Minister established his lack of understanding of soil and CO2 cycle

    ` Soils are an immense bucket for storing unwanted carbon in the atmosphere” this statement reflects total ignorance of physics, science and nature. Anthropogenic desert and soil loss covers 40% of Earth and Europeans mostly responsible the past 450yrs.What the Ministers fail to understand when you eat that vegetable fruit cut down the forest it was soil soil-carbon and elements. The Ministers seriously need field-Farmer contact and Natures lessons how quickly soil soil-carbon elements nutrients can grow.
    Don’t leave COP21 without setting a working protocol to lower CO2 via the 2-4% of
    vegetation that via root manure grows soil soil-carbon. Well planned under
    UNFCCC 100yr rule perpetual self funding income. If Australian Delegation were
    Soil Earth science literate they would be selling CO2 sink offset (and
    reversing desert building a new industry to take over from mining
    manufacturing. PRC with Australian technology will sequester 8Bn tonnes CO2 to
    deserts as will other desert nations well planned the Australian desert
    reversal lower CO2 via foreign desert nations by 2025 will lower 24Bn Tonnes
    CO2 at very low cost offset to emitters. Here is part of protocol
    without prejudice Robert Vincin

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