Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Arseholes before the world

Yesterday the Greens' Russel Norman used Parliament's motion of consolation on Typhoon Haiyan to give its victims a voice. It didn't go down well in the House, where Norman was heckled by climate change deniers Tau Henare, Jami Lee-Ross and Shane Jones. Writing from Warsaw, Adopt-a-Negotiator fellow David Tong blogs his embarrassment:

The worst typhoon ever recorded hit last weekend. It killed over 10,000 people. 478,000 people have been displaced. Real, human, people, with families and children and lives and loves. Philippine lead negotiator Yeb Saño is one such real person, and he pledged to fast until a deal was done for all our futures. And my elected leaders laughed. No one here in Warsaw is laughing. In fact, 30 or more people are joining Yeb in his fast.

You might have seen that one of the other Adopt a Negotiator Fellows this year is Carlie Labaria. She is here with us in Warsaw. But she is from the Philippines. She is another of those real people hit by Haiyan, and she is kind, funny, and very smart. It’s a privilege to work with her. When she spoke yesterday on behalf of youth to the United Nations, people didn’t laugh. When she pled for dignity, people didn’t laugh.

Members of my government accused an opposition Member of Parliament of being “political” for linking climate change to Haiyan. But the link is clear. While it is impossible to conclusively say that climate change caused a single weather event, we can be confident that climate change makes typhoons and “hellstorms” more likely. As my fellow Trackers have stressed already, climate change fuelled Haiyan. Sea surface temperatures around the Philippines were as much as two degrees above normal. This is not the old normal. It is the new abnormal.

That’s the science. That’s not up for debate here in Warsaw. And that is why it is not political to stand with the Philippines, but an act of basic human respect.

But its not just embarrassing and indecent, its also stupid. Our government's laughter at the Philippines' suffering, and their refusal to consider doing anything about it, will not have gone unnoticed. And that means our negotiators, in Warsaw and possibly elsewhere on other issues, will find it that much harder to convince people to support their positions. After all, no-one wants to deal with arseholes - and our Parliamentary knuckle-draggers have just done their very best to paint us as such to the world.

Meanwhile, Yeb Saño, the Filipino negotiator Norman was quoting, has expressed his appreciation for Norman's stance. So this really is about National wanting to pretend sympathy, while not listening to the wishes of actual victims.