The Opposite of What Australia Does

The politics of Vanuatu are so fluid that we can hardly rely on a decision made by a Prime Minister in office for less than two months to stand, but it still strikes me as pretty significant that this tiny island state will take in climate change refugees.

Let’s note a few things here. Vanuatu is hardly the poorest nation around, but it is certainly not rich, and its land is degraded from overpopulation. Moreover, on neither an absolute nor per capita basis has Vanuatu made a significant contribution to causing the problem. The prime minister Moana Carcasses has previously imposed work permits for people seeking employment in Vanuatu, so he is hardly an open borders kind of guy. Nevertheless he clearly can see the tragedy that is coming and is willing for his nation, which unlike some neighbours has a decent amount of higher ground to do its fair share, or more than its fair share, of offering lifeboats to those in need. The contrast to Australian politicians, who really did create the problem yet refuse to do anything about it, could not be sharper.

A combination of awareness of the dangers of climate change and the cost of importing fuels is leading to a boom on solar (and to a lesser extent other forms of renewable energy) across the South Pacific. Look at this wonderful program, for example, training illiterate women to become solar engineers capable of fixing the solar lights in their villages when they break down.

Note: Stewart Jackson informs me that the Vanuatu Green Confederation are not currently members of the Global Greens or Asia Pacific Greens, but have been in the past. I don’t know if this is a policy issue, a personality issue or simply the logistical challenges of sending representatives to overseas meetings.

Update: Although more people will probably read my Facebook feed than this post Charles Richardson‘s comment deserves to be preserved for posterity. “I refuse to believe there is a Prime Minister called “Moana Carcasses”

About Stephen Luntz

I am a science journalist, specialising in Australian and New Zealand research across all fields of science. My book, Forensics, Fossils and Fruitbats: A Field Guide to Australian Scientists is out now through CSIRO Publishing. I am also a professional returning officer for non-government organisations. I'm very politically active, but generally try to restrict this blog to scientific matters.
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