30 October 2012


Speaking on a recent visit to Australia, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres,stressed how Australia was “blessed” with renewable energy resources the envy of much of the world.

This assessment is backed up by the most recent Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)  report which shows Australia has the potential to produce around 500 times its current energy consumption from renewable energy sources if all possible sources available across eastern and south eastern Australia were tapped into. AEMO is the joint government and industry body which contributes to the development of Australia's energy policy.

Meanwhile progress continues to be made towards harnessing the potential of solar energy  (In a six hour period deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes in a year) with last month the first steps being undertaken to develop a high-voltage direct-current super grid to supply the whole of Asia with renewable energy, plans announced for construction of a joint Algerian-German pilot solar thermal plant and the opening of another solar thermal power plant in Calasparra, Spain.

Climate change is a complex problem, which, although environmental in nature, either impacts on, or is impacted by, global issues, including poverty, economic development, population growth, sustainable development and resource management.

In 1992, countries joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to cooperatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable.

By 1995,it was realized that emission reductions provisions in the Convention were inadequate, which led to a strengthening of the global response to climate change through the Kyoto Protocol which legally binds developed countries to emission reduction targets.

In 2010, governments agreed that emissions need to be reduced so that global temperature increases are limited to below 2 degrees Celsius.

In Durban in 2011, governments of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol decided that a second commitment period, from 2013 onwards, would seamlessly follow the end of the first commitment period.

There are now 195 Parties to the Convention.


“I think, if you make a lot more money than most people — like I do — you should pay more tax and subsidise people who work just as hard as you, but don’t earn as much,” - Daniel Radcliffe, actor (best known for his role as Harry Potter) and worth an estimated $47 million.

Tax provides the money for services that we all need, like health care, education, aged care, clean water and roads. However, some wealthy individuals and multinational companies engage in large scale tax dodging, avoiding paying hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes globally. This means everyone else has to pay more tax or go without essential services. The impact on developing countries is devastating, denying them the money they need to be self-sufficient and making them more dependent on aid and debt.

It is estimated that for every $10 given in aid to the developing world, $15 slips out through tax dodging? Christian Aid estimates that tax dodging costs poor countries $160 billion a year. Money that could be spent building schools and hospitals.

Visit the JustAct website  to learn what action you can take on this issue.

Corruption, crime, and tax evasion in the form of illicit financial outflows cost the developing world US$1 trillion per year according to research carried out by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), with Mexico—the current chair of the G20—suffering more than half a trillion dollars in outflows over the past decade. Illicit outflows pose serious problems for developed Western economies as well, with Greece—the epicenter of the European debt crisis—hemorrhaging US$160 billion in illicit outflows from 2000 through 2009.

Some positive developments emerged at the recent meeting of G20 leaders in Los Cabos, Mexico where G20 leaders were praised by Global Financial Integrity (GFI) for prominently focusing on the issue of illicit financial flows, committing to move toward the automatic exchange of tax information, and renewing the mandate of the Anti-Corruption Working Group for another two years. However disappointment was expressed at the leaders’ failure to address the issue of anonymous shell companies.


Following the failure of UN delegates to reach consensus and agree an Arms Trade Treaty in July, the focus of the Control Arms campaign shifted to the First Committee on Disarmament and International Security session of the UN General Assembly which due to take place from 8 October–6 November which will decide when and how the next round of treaty negotiations will take place.

Control Arms is advocating that States base future negotiations on the existing draft treaty text, but also that they aim to strengthen it in several key areas.  The coalition also advocates for any subsequent negotiations to be held under  UN General Assembly Rules of Procedure. This means that states have to strive for consensus, but lacking that can take decisions by vote, thereby preventing any one state, or a very small group of states, from blocking the majority will for a robust treaty.

Throughout the negotiations in July there was majority support for the Arms Trade Treaty to cover all conventional arms including ammunition, and to be based around tough rules on international human rights and humanitarian law. In the final hours of negotiations consensus was procedurally blocked by the United States, Russia, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela who all asked for more time.


The Integration and Support Unit  which was established by The Edmund Rice International Heritage Centres (ERIHC) to respond to the needs of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in Waterford, has recently become the 60th organisation to join the national ‘Turn Off the Red Light’ campaign and is asking others to support their efforts.

In an announcement accompanying the Government review of Irish prostitution laws, the Director of the Integration and Support Unit reports that: “We have reached a crucial stage in the efforts to put those who procure sex worker victims, traffickers and other criminals in the sex trade in our communities in the spotlight. The Government review of the law gives a real opportunity for change."

Traffickers have come to regard Ireland as a low-risk, high-profit base for criminal activity. Recent figures indicating the number of children trafficked, abused and exploited for the sex industry, and the number of women for sale on internet sites provide a stark reminder of the reality of this trade which is mainly kept hidden from the authorities, the public and the media.

According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime  people trafficking is the fastest growing means by which people are enslaved, the fastest growing international crime, and one of the largest sources of income for organised crime.

Every country is affected by human trafficking, whether it's an origin country where people are trafficked from; a transit country where people are trafficked through; or a destination country where people are trafficked to. Often a country will be all three. Men, women and children are trafficked.

To learn more about the issue from an Australian perspective visit the ACRATH website.

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