Culture

The G20 Is Over And Australia Definitely Came Last

Let's discuss what went wrong, shall we?

Didn’t the other world leaders get the memo? The tiny, one-paragraph-in-a-communiqué memo?  Climate change was not to be discussed at this G20. That really blew up in Australia’s face didn’t it?

Embarrassingly, Australia wasn’t visited by a bunch of collegial caveshits who have wet dreams about French-kissing a burning fossil, but was instead swarmed by world leaders determined, at any opportunity, to mention climate change. It just dragged on and on: Australia’s international humiliation. It was utterly painful. Couldn’t they have got it over and done with quickly? Rip off the bandaid?

Imagine: Obama, Merkel, Cameron, and Jinping could have stepped off the plane, found Abbott gagged and tied to a pillar, and then ceremoniously encircled him, shouting “Climate change climate change climate change climate change climate change” for 5 minutes. That done, they could have just gotten back to rubbing money on one another’s groins in true G20 fashion, while George Brandis cheered from the sidelines (presumably in a series of racial slurs).

But they didn’t opt for that idea I just had. Instead what unfolded was the snail-paced mortification of an entire nation, as country after country did the common sense thing and acknowledged the biggest issue that’s ever faced humanity, while Abbott was sewing together coal cuddly toys and wearing a chimney costume, or something. The blows came from all directions.

David Cameron – who has a face specifically designed for the purpose of supporting rampant capitalism – surprisingly stuck up for the environment, getting all passive-aggressive on Australia by saying that action needs to come from “Countries that have so far done the least”. As in “Australia, take the carbon crack pipe out of your soot hole and sort your shit out.”

France also raised the stakes over the weekend, with president Francois Hollande saying that inaction on climate change “could lead to catastrophe, if not war”. Now, no-one has run the figures on this yet, but I imagine the one thing that’s better for humanity than coal is not-war. Not-war is really, really good for humanity. I mean, I’m sure coal’s brilliant – it certainly did a lot for the pocket money of infant chimney sweeps in Dickensian England – but however fucking heroin-awesome coal is, I assure you that not-war is at least seven times better than that.

The biggest blows came from the US. Obama arrived in Australia fresh from a deal struck with China on reducing and capping emissions. The only thing that could have sucked the wind out of Abbott’s dreams for an environment-free G20 more would have been Mother Nature herself landing in Australia on a giant Sky Dolphin before shitting moss into a coal mine. Worse still, Obama followed up the deal saying nations need to “look squarely at the science” on climate change. A bit awkward, as most of the “science” on climate change in Australia is currently queueing at Centrelink, or being refuted on national television by Andrew Bolt with some “evidence” that he found on an Etch-A-Sketch.

By this point Australia’s international reputation was in a worse state than Joe Pesci at the end of the film, Casino. And then, with Australia half-dead (spoiler alert) and lying in a shallow grave of fossil fuel worship, while sporting the bludgeoned Y-Fronts of science denial (this still totally tracks with Casino by the way), Canada came along and started shovelling dirt on Australia’s face (second spoiler alert: “Australia” gets buried alive at the end of Casino).

Canada, one of Abbott’s few allies, has just announced that it’s considering contributing to the Green Climate Fund, along with the US ($US3bn), Japan ($US1.5bn), and Germany ($US1bn), meaning Australia’s environmental failure at the G20 is now complete: not only are we not doing anything at all, but we can’t even be bothered to throw some guilt coins at the countries we’ll be affecting with our unconscionable laziness.

Abbott justified Australia’s lack of contribution to the Fund by pointing at our Direct Action plan – a policy designed by throwing a lump of coal at some scrabble letters – and the “green bank” he’s currently trying to destroy. I hope no homeless person ever encounters Tony Abbott: he’d probably fart in their upturned hat before violently throwing his own money down a drain.

All in all, it’s been an utter disaster and an embarrassment. But could it ever have been anything less when we deliberately tried to set the bar so morally low? One paragraph in a communiqué to deal with the largest issue of our times? You might as well try to cure AIDS with an emoticon.

Abbott doesn’t see it that way though. Closing the G20, the Prime Minister pointed to the economic benefits of the conference, to the growth it will lead to. A mad man, standing in front of a towering inferno, refusing to call the fire brigade as he proudly announces his intention to build an extra floor.