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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

Break free from fossil fuels

Fossil fuel extraction in PNG– Image: InterOil
Commentary by: Rokotamana Vitinaqailevu

Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have increased over the years and account for two
thirds of all the carbon emitted since the industrial era, that’s 63% of all carbondioxide produced.
Researches have confirmed that when it comes to owning up, it’s not so difficult to pinpoint the
biggest emitters worldwide.
In a recent detailed and exhaustive research by Researcher Rick Heede who spent eight years
combing through data, the major emitters are actually 90 entities. These ‘Carbon Majors’ have
been burning fossil fuel for the last 150 years, and continue to do so with tremendous effects and
impacts on humanity.
It is estimated that the combined profits of four of the carbon majors namely, Chevron,
ExxonMobil, BP and Shell, topped $94 billion. It is also now understood that of the 90 entities
responsible, 50 are investor owned (including ExxonMobil), 31 are state-owned and 9 are
government-run industries.
Climate change is a borderless issue and its induced destruction is no longer an abstract concept,
but a reality for many people. In the Pacific, rising sea level, contamination of water lenses,
displacement, agricultural impacts, stronger cyclones, etc., which threatens their very existence,
are all too common.
The impact on global climate change is staggering. It is no surprise that those most vulnerable to be
at the receiving end of the changes in climate are also the least responsible for its causes. These
vulnerable countries are also least equipped financially and otherwise to cope with the stresses.
The Pacific Island Countries (PICs) must band together and demand justice. The already struggling
economies are more burdened now after increasing intensity and frequency of natural disasters,
which leads to other undesirable situations. They must make sure that fossil fuel giants get starved,
by making use of international instruments such as the International Mechanism for Loss and
Damage. They must demand that carbon majors pay a levy, royalties and extraction-related fees
for past emission and destruction to their heritage.
Recently more than 160 countries have turned up in Paris to sign the climate deal agreed on at the
21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21). The COP is the body that governs and promotes
UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), a framework formed in 1992
to increase international cooperation against the global threat to climate change and its inevitable
Governments of the Pacific must now also act on behalf of its people without fear of retribution
from giant corporate businesses. For Papua New Guinea (PNG) this becomes more important since 
the exploration of its resources and exploitation of government system has not translated well into
economic development. Schools are ill-equipped, tertiary institutions continue to suffer budget cuts,
number of homeless youths and disadvantaged families continue to rise, and the list goes on.
Sad though to see that the PNG politicians are giving too much leeway for mega companies and
corporations to extort natural resources and fiscal benefits from indigenous people, without proper
and fair payment. Papua New Guineas government must promote the development of PNG as a
nation and not the development of their personal bank accounts. Its time to say enough, its over,
and the Prime Minister should take the lead in bringing the country back on its feet.
Exploitation at those levels have now been exposed by the Panama papers – detailing the tax
havens and fraudulent systems that’s been driving the balance sheet towards major profits for
large corporations and individuals.
The fossil fuel industry has much to pay for, in terms of the incalculable environmental degradation
and catastrophic incidences. Papua New Guineas’ 2012 landslide from an ExxonMobil project
should be a warning. Over the years, many similar tragedies have occurred and the sheer scale of
such disasters is difficult to grasp. The pollution impacts on the innocent is staggering with
estimates from the World Health Organization that up to 7 million people die prematurely due to
fossil fuel burning and inhalation of polluted air.
Moves by Pacific Island Countries (PICs’) to bring to justice such climate renegades must be
priority. Thousands are suffering in silence, and it seems to be growing louder. Human rights have
been violated for the benefits of the top 10% of the world’s wealthiest nations, corporations and
industries. PICs leaders must act now because not taking action is tantamount to dereliction of

About the Author
Rokotamana Vitinaqailevu is a B.U.L.A Prjoect - Erasmus Mundus Scholarship recipient  who studies at the University of Technology in Papua New Guinea.

Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on Saturday, April 23, 2016. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article


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