The Future is Equal

Archives for June 1, 2017

The Bachelor: International Climate Edition

Group photo of G7 leaders at the 43rd G7 summit: Donald Tusk, Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, Paolo Gentiloni, Emmanuel Macron, Shinzō Abe, Theresa May, Jean-Claude Juncker. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Blog written by Courtney Hinkle, Campaigns Advisor for Climate at Oxfam America.

Last week, the global climate community was awaiting with bated breath the final decision from the Trump administration about the fate of the United States and the Paris climate agreement. At the G7 meeting, a last ditch effort was staged by world leaders to persuade President Trump to agree to language in the final G7 Communique in support of the agreement.

President Trump, in a rebuke of those efforts, declined to endorse any language on climate change, and instead tweeted: “I will announce my decision about Paris next week!”

And just today, even as White House officials confirmed that he is likely to announce his withdrawal from the agreement, he tweeted: “I will be making my decision on Paris over the next few days!”

Once again, he keeps the world waiting – the ultimate suspense story. Will the US finally withdraw? Who from his inner circle will make it happen? Will it be the isolationist Steve Bannon, or the “globalist” Jared Kushner? We will all have to tune in to find out!

Trump’s approach to foreign policy seems more that of a reality TV star than reflective of serious policy deliberation. It’s like this Administration is producing an episode of the Bachelor, and we are all left to guess who will get the rose.

And this story has certainly had all the makings of a juicy episode. Anyone who has watched the show knows that the show’s producers know just how to weave a tantalizing storyline – striking the right balance of authentic and absurd. There are inner-house rivalries between factions of contestants. A dedicated following of loyal bloggers has been built up to push out pre-emptive and post-mortem analysis of each episode, spinning the latest drama. Each week, it’s a power play to see who has moved up in the rankings toward receiving that elusive rose.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone that a former reality star would run his Administration like a ratings-focused enterprise.  Naturally, President Trump has played-up his openness to being persuaded on the Paris agreement as an invite for everyone interested to plead their case – and so leading CEOs, heads of state, and other interest groups have all showed up to the cocktail party and tried to put their best-selves forward so that they may be judged worthy of a rose.

And at this point in the Paris drama, we are all watching the classic episode on The Bachelor where the one absurd character – a favorite tactic of the producers to ensure maximum drama (like, could s/he really be so clueless to pick that person??) – is finally being exposed by the “good” faction of contestants. And yet, the Bachelor seems impervious to their warnings and remains blind to any flaws this person may have.

The parallels are striking. President Trump, despite every warning and every plea from rational actors, including heads of stateCEOs, military leaders, and even the Pope, is still unconvinced that he shouldn’t give the fossil fuel industry the final rose.

But of course, this isn’t about roses. And the withdrawal of the Paris agreement shouldn’t be a dramatic saga played out for maximum TV ratings.

Climate change is a global challenge of historic proportions, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Never before have the impacts of a changing climate felt so acute. Every year, NASA reports that it’s – yet again – the hottest year on record.  We’re seeing severe droughts around the world that were likely made more extreme by climate change, and epic floods have devastated entire communities, straining local resources, displacing thousands, and hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.

If we get it right, maybe we get to keep a habitable planet. If we don’t, billions of people will suffer unnecessarily.  Here’s hoping that President Trump does the right thing and hands the rose to future generations, not the fossil fuel industry.

Occupied Palestinian Territory: Fifty years of inaction and impunity must end

The international community continues to turn a blind eye to Israel’s violations of international law and the abuse of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Oxfam said today.

As development and human rights organisations prepare to mark fifty years of occupation, donors, the UN and international agencies have spent billions of dollars in humanitarian and development aid that will have little sustainable, long-term impact while the occupation remains in place.

Oxfam Country Director Chris Eijkemans said the inaction of international governments sends the wrong signal: that international law can be violated with impunity. This lack of accountability keeps Palestinians poor and prevents them from accessing their rights.

“There are few examples of poverty or injustice in the OPT that do not stem from the occupation. If it weren’t for the occupation, most aid agencies would not need to be here. The issues facing Palestinians are enormous and complex, but on each count, despite the billions of dollars invested, the lives of Palestinians cannot meaningfully improve as long as the occupation persists,” said Eijkemans.

Aid has brought neither peace nor significant sustainable development to the OPT. Despite the Occupied Palestinian Territory being one of the highest per capita recipients of aid in the world in recent decades, the economy, security and many development indicators of the OPT have declined. This is due to a fundamental failure to ensure that aid commitments are underpinned by diplomatic and political pressure to end violations and allow Palestinians to claim their rights.

These Band-Aid humanitarian solutions will fail to bring long-term sustainable change, but will continue to be needed, unless the root cause of these injustices – the occupation – ends.

Oxfam warned that Palestinians cannot endure another fifty years of occupation, and the international community bears significant responsibility to hold Israel to account so a just and peaceful solution to the conflict can be found.

“The international community shoulders a large portion of the blame for the ongoing situation faced by 4.5 million Palestinians living in the OPT and must take clear and urgent action. Toothless condemnation of the litany of abuses is not enough. Settlement expansion, disproportionate use of violence, forcible transfer, restriction of movement, confiscation of land, destruction of homes and collective punishment are illegal acts. Governments have a choice: they can either challenge or entrench these ongoing violations,” said Eijkemans.

Peace and prosperity for Palestinians can only be achieved if Israel is held to account for its systematic violations of international law and the occupation is brought to an end.

While the occupation is in place, the true potential of the OPT and Palestinians cannot be realized.

“Israel has no incentive to end the occupation while it bears no tangible cost for its violations. We must do more to find a solution that brings justice and peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. These fifty years have seen thousands of lives and opportunities lost. Families have been separated; people have been denied their most basic rights. We must not let another fifty years pass before a just and peaceful solution is found,” said Eijkemans.

Notes to editors

Download Oxfam’s media brief “No end in sight. 50 years of impunity and inaction in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)”