Let's save the rest of the world's forests. But not our own. Oh no, we must not let Australia lose its competitive advantage blah blah blah...
John Howard's utter drivel (and you can listen to his words for yourself if you wish) about climate change is disturbing. He regards a major response to the problem as "knee-jerk", he makes no attempt to set goals for the future, he sees no merit in renewable energy, he dismisses the Stern report as being "one man's viewpoint" from a "European perspective". And then, out of (small-l) left field, comes a Yes Ministerish plan that, taken at face value, is utterly dazzling in its ambitions.
I am referring, of course, to the Global Initiative on Forests and Climate, announced on Wednesday.
Let me just quote the opening paragraphs of the GIFC fact sheet:
The Australian Government is providing $200 million for ‘Global Initiative on Forests and Climate'. This funding will be used to support projects in selected developing countries (particularly, but not exclusively, in the South-East Asia and Pacific regions) to:
• build technical capacity to assess and monitor forest resources, and to develop national forest management plans;
• put in place effective regulatory and law enforcement arrangements to protect forests, including through preventing illegal logging;
• promote the sustainable use of forest resources and diversify the economic base of forest-dependent communities;
• support practical research into the drivers of deforestation;
• encourage reforestation of degraded forest areas;
• develop and deploy the technology and systems needed to help developing countries monitor and produce robust assessments of their forest resources;
• pilot approaches to providing real financial incentives to countries and communities to encourage sustainable use of forests and reduce destruction of forests.
These projects will be developed in cooperation with regional countries and relevant international organisations including the World Bank. They will reflect the priorities of the countries concerned, while seeking to achieve the maximum possible benefit for forest management and the global climate.
Yes, a unilateral decision to enforce reafforestation in other sovereign states, brought to you by the nation that refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol.
It's going to be administered in part by AusAID. I won't speculate on whether the $200 million will go towards the 0.7% of GDP for foreign aid as stipulated in MDG1, because I reckon the government hasn't even considered that.
Meanwhile, there is that issue of a proposed $2 billion pulp mill in Tasmania to be run by those good corporate citizens, Gunns. (Here's the latest developments from today's Australian).
Some reaction to the GIFC proposal from Bob Brown.