11 November 2011


With the passage of its Clean Energy Act Australia has joined the growing list of countries that have imposed a tax on carbon emissions intended to halt the growth of the country's growing greenhouse gas emissions and spur investment in cleaner energy sources including natural gas and renewable power stations.

The laws will see Australia join the European Union and New Zealand with national emissions trading schemes. California's starts in 2013, while China and South Korea are working on carbon trading programmes. India has a coal tax, while South Africa plans to place carbon caps on its top polluters.

Whilst Australia accounts for just 1.5 percent of global emissions, it is the developed world's highest emitter per capita due to a reliance on coal to generate electricity.

Meanwhile the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned Wednesday that the world is hurtling toward irreversible climate change and will lose the chance to limit warming if it doesn't take bold action in the next five years.

In its annual World Energy Outlook, the agency spelled out the consequences if those steps aren't taken and what needs to be done to cap global temperature increases at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. That's the threshold beyond which some scientists have said catastrophic changes could be triggered.

The IEA is the intergovernmental organisation which acts as a policy adviser to the twenty eight member states of the OECD group of countries - the group of the world's most developed countries.


Despite the focus on addressing the European debt crisis, the G20 recent meeting in Cannes resulted in some significant movement to address the issues of tax havens and to introduce a tax on financial transactions as a means of addressing the issues of poverty and climate change.

Momentum in favour of introducing the tax continues to build with South Africa, Argentina and Brazil joining with France, Germany and Spain to back the so-called 'Robin Hood Tax'. Bill Gates also presented a report to the meeting arguing that the tax is both feasible and desirable while repudiating the idea that the tax needs to be global in order to work.

Significant international pressure from an increasing number of policy makers is also steadily mounting against the secrecy offered by tax havens, says UK-based international development agency Christian Aid, following the G20 meeting.

The conference listed 11 tax havens that have failed to deliver on tax transparency, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy stating that the worst offenders 'will be excluded from the international community'.

Other significant developments arising from the summit included:-
• Every G20 member agreeing to sign a multilateral convention that will allow exchange of tax information between them – and will consider making information available automatically on a voluntary basis,
• A call from the G20 for multinational companies to be more compliant and transparent in their dealings with poor countries.
• Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warning that tax evasion and illicit finance flows have become a ‘serious’ problem and urging the G20 to take a lead on automatic information exchange.
• The G20 agreeing to increase support to developing countries to counter ‘abusive transfer pricing ‘- a major profit-shifting tax dodge.
• A report from Bill Gates calling on all G20 countries to impose legally binding transparency requirements on mining and oil companies. Requiring companies to make public details of agreements they have with governments of the countries where they operate makes it easier to spot irregular payments.

"We are delighted that the G20 has listened to the concerns of 40,000 people across the world calling for an End to Tax Haven Secrecy – but we need sustained follow-up action to ensure this becomes a reality" said Christian Aid senior economic justice adviser Dr David McNair.

"We estimate that developing countries lose around $160 billion a year because of tax dodging by multinationals and other companies trading internationally. That lost tax revenue could save lives" he added.


The United Nations Development Program (UNDP)has compiled rankings of 187 countries according to their wealth, education levels and life expectancy.

According to the report which was released in Copenhagen on November 2, Australia is the second best country in the world, after Norway, for gaining wealth, for learning and for health, and Australians were also rated first in non-income related measures such as life expectancy even though Aboriginal Australians live much less longer than the rest. Many of the nations ranked between 80 and 120 in the report have better life expectancies for their peoples than do Australia's Aboriginal peoples.

This disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians raises questions about federal and state government policies which according to some United Nations committees and experts smack of overt neglect, discrimination and racism.

Earlier this year United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay criticised Australia's racism towards its Aboriginal peoples, the policies that have led to government intervention into the lives of the Northern Territory's Aboriginal peoples, and the maltreatment and indefinite detention of Asylum Seekers. Mrs Pillay, a South African, compared Australia's situation with the former apartheid regime in her country.

Again earlier in the year in reviewing Australia's performance, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review both pointed to the need for an improvement in relations with Aboriginal peoples, to allow for self-determination and to remove discriminatory policies from practice. They argue that not enough is being done to reduce the disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. Subsequent Amnesty and internal government agency reports have produced a distinctively similar lament.


One in every ten people in the world possesses small arms. Two bullets are produced each year for every person on the planet. These are just two of the disturbing facts highlighted on the Control Arms website.

Later this month Control Arms will launch a Speak Out campaign in the lead-up to the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) negotiations scheduled for July 2012.

Through the campaign Control Arms will continue to call for a bulletproof Arms Trade Treaty that:
- Stops transfers when there is a substantial risk that the arms or ammunition are likely to be used in serious violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law, or fuel armed violence and undermine socio-economic development.
- Holds governments accountable to existing standards of international law and the UN Charter.
- Includes all conventional weapons and ammunition, all transfers and all transactions.
- Is enforceable and includes detailed guidelines for full implementation, reporting, international cooperation, compliance and accountability.

For more information about how you can support the campaign visit the Speak Out campaign webpage.


"As the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations discussed global finance and development at the G20 Summit in France, the people of El Salvador, Guatemala, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Thailand and many, many other nations were not represented. The voices of their people – many of whom are still under water from recent flooding, not to mention illegitimate debts -- were not heard. But they were affected by the decisions made in Cannes."

So begins an open letter from Marta Benavides a Salvadorian woman the co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty movement.

The letter touches on important questions about climate change and climate realities, aid policies, the legacy of bad policies, the lack of international media attention, the lack of overall awareness, the recently ended G20 meeting in Cannes, among others.

The full text of the letter can be read here

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?