US-Australia tension over climate change talks

WASHINGTON (Rooters agency) – There are increasing signs of friction between the US and its close Australian ally, apparently caused by different approaches to negotiations on climate change.

The problem began when the government of Australian Prime Minister Rupert Menzies, under domestic political pressure, unexpectedly pledged that, by 2020, it would reduce its lying about Australia’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 30 percent. Furthermore, by 2070, Australia would reduce its GHG emissions lying to zero – that is, it would start telling the complete truth about them.

The announcement of this bold change of direction received considerable applause – on what was admittedly a slow day – at the Lima climate change conference. However, it was noticed that the US delegates joined only perfunctorily in the clapping.

Asked about this, White House Press Secretary Jed Lee Earnest said, “We are against developed countries being obligated to tell the truth about greenhouse emissions unless developing countries are also obligated to do so. And no, it doesn’t matter if they don’t currently have the technology to do that; if they are serious, they can buy that technology from us.”

A more fundamental concern was explained by a US official who asked to remain anonymous. He said that the government regards truth in climate matters as “highly problematic.”

Everyone is in favor of ‛the truth and nothing but the truth,’ at least when the evidence is public,” the official said. “But they aren’t so enthusiastic about the middle part of that phrase: ‛the whole truth.’”

The official pointed out that previous international climate negotiations have excluded its military GHG emissions from the calculation of total US emissions. “This has not been widely publicized, and we certainly don’t want it to be. Our military’s annual GHG are larger than those of most countries.

Our diplomats have been hugely successful in having our armed forces excluded from any consideration in climate talks. We don’t talk about it for obvious reasons, and other governments don’t talk about it presumably because they’re embarrassed about having agreed to let us get away with it.”

If Australia or any other major polluting country started telling even part of the truth about its GHG emissions, this could add to international pressure for the US to do the same, the official worried. “We’re already under far too much pressure on this truth-telling stuff,” he said. “I’m involved in suppressing the information, and half the time I don’t even know what it is I’m covering up. If governments start telling the truth, that’s the end of civilization as we know it.”

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