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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Kotvojs a no-show to environment forum on climate change

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Environment, Penny Sharpe is calling on the Liberal Candidate for Bega, Fiona Kotvojs to detail her views on climate change after she was a no show at the Nature Conservation Council’s environment forum this week.

Video: Attending were Labor's Michael Holland, Greens candidate Peter Haggar, independent Jeffrey Hawkins, and Karin Geiselhart from the Sustainable Australia Party. Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs sent an apology together with a statement that was read out by forum moderator Jacqui Mumford, NCC acting chief executive. Topics covered included climate change, native forest logging, single use plastics and threats to marine parks in NSW. The candidates gave informative answers to these questions, outlining their policies and vision to address crucial conservation issues in the Bega electorate.

Ms Sharpe said "Fiona Kotvojs is Premier Dominic Perrottet’s handpicked candidate for Bega. "After previously describing action on climate change as a “gratuitous waste”, and triumphantly posting on his facebook page after the election of Donald Trump “If you question man-made climate change, you are not a sceptic,” the Premier has chosen a candidate that reflects his view who fails to share her views with the people of Bega.

“Fiona Kotvojs has a long track record of denying the science of climate change. Last night she ducked the opportunity to share her views with voters in Bega. It is time for her to do so.” Ms Sharpe said.

In 2018, Dr Kotvojs said on human-induced climate change:

“Climate change is something that has always occurred and will always continue to occur…When we’ve had glaciers covering Australia, covering parts of eastern Australia, when we’ve had much warmer temperatures, it is really difficult to identify exactly what component of that is human induced”.

When asked if she accepted the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by greenhouse gas emissions, she stated

“There is a lot of evidence both ways.”

In 2019, Dr Kotvojs said:

“The causes for climate change are many and varied. NASA in 2010 declared solar activity to be the major forcing agent in climate change. Human activity also contributes to climate change. The issue is to what extent and what are we going to do.”

The Liberal candidate for Bega disputed the threat of climate change to the Pacific:

“The focus of much of the media coverage of last week’s Pacific Leader’s Forum has been on climate change risk…but what is largely ignored is whether climate change really is the greatest threat to Pacific island nations…”

Dr Kotvojs went on to say:

“These myths have created unwarranted fear and adversely affected national investment decisions…the population of *Tuvalu will be destroyed by diabetes long before the island is drowned by a rising sea level…” In the leadup to the 2020 Federal election for the seat of Eden Monaro climate and LGBT equality campaigners rounded on the Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro, Fiona Kotvojs, with one warning 'she is “more conservative” on climate change than Tony Abbott'. The Guardian reported in May 2020: "Standing alongside Morrison in Murrumbateman on 24 May, Kotvojs dodged a question about whether she supports a zero-emissions target by 2050.

“Humans contribute to that changing climate and I believe that we need to have a reduction in emissions, that we need to look at approaches to be adaptive and to have our communities resilient,” she said instead. * EDITOR'S NOTE regarding the reference to Tuvalu: 'Sinking' Pacific nation is getting bigger: study A University of Auckland study examined changes in the geography of Tuvalu's nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014, using aerial photographs and satellite imagery.

It found eight of the atolls and almost three-quarters of the islands grew during the study period, lifting Tuvalu's total land area by 2.9 percent, even though sea levels in the country rose at twice the global average.

Co-author Paul Kench said the research, published Friday in the journal Nature Communications, challenged the assumption that low-lying island nations would be swamped as the sea rose.

"We tend to think of Pacific atolls as static landforms that will simply be inundated as sea levels rise, but there is growing evidence these islands are geologically dynamic and are constantly changing," he said.

"The study findings may seem counter-intuitive, given that (the) sea level has been rising in the region over the past half century, but the dominant mode of change over that time on Tuvalu has been expansion, not erosion."

It found factors such as wave patterns and sediment dumped by storms could offset the erosion caused by rising water levels.

The Auckland team says climate change remains one of the major threats to low-lying island nations. ** Without knowing what the current views are of Ms Kotvojs in regards to Climate Change the following might offer an insight by way of her previous views. Position on Climate Change

KOTVOJS - ABC SOUTH EAST - 3 OCTOBER 2018 (date tbc)

Journalist: What are your views on man made induced climate change and whether more needs to be done at a national level?

Kotvojs: Climate change is something that has always occurred and it will always continue to occur. That’s a reality of life and where we need to be is in a position where we are able to respond to the climate change that occurs and be able to ensure we are resilient in that environment. It is really important to also ensure that we have energy that is at a price which is affordable to people, that we have reliable energy and to move forward in both directions. So gaining a balance and looking at the reality of the situation is both important.

Journalist: Yes as you say the climate always changes, but do you believe that as the current challenges of climate change are human induced?

Kotvojs: (pause) When we’ve had glaciers covering Australia, covering parts of eastern Australia, when we’ve had much warmer temperatures, it is really difficult to identify exactly what component of that is human induced. And the reality is that whatever is causing this, we need to ensure that we are able to maintain reliable energy for people. That we are able to provide energy at a price people can afford and doesn’t mean that people are turning their power off and that we are able to ensure the environment continues in a healthy way.

Journalist: Do you accept the scientific consensus that the challenges of the climate at the moment are brought about by greenhouse gas emissions that we have created?

Kotjovs: (pause) There is a lot of evidence both ways. The changes, the current environment and the current climate we have is the result of many factors. That is one of them, yes - but there are many factors that are contributing to the current climate that we have and to our weather patterns.

Supporting information

Links to her comments on climate change (full interview is no longer available – but a tweet from the journalist suggests it is ABC - 3 October 2018 (audio saved separately)


Kotvojs says solar activity was the major forcing agent in climate change

KOTVOJS – YASS TRIBUNE – 30 APRIL 2019

APRIL 30 2019 - 7:00AM

The Greens to preference Labor in federal election

· Hannah Sparks

However, Ms Kotvojs told the Tribune she did believe human's contributed to climate change.

"The causes for climate change are many and varied. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in 2010 declared solar activity to be the major forcing agent in climate change. Human activity also contributes to climate change. The issue is to what extent, and what are we going to do," Ms Kotvojs said.

"To respond to this complexity, we must take an approach that achieves a balance between reducing emissions, and maintaining power affordability and reliability of supply," she said.

"The Liberal government has adopted a balanced approach which will see Australia meet its global emissions target of 26 - 28 per cent by 2030. The Climate Solutions Package helps achieve this (including the Climate Solution Fund, Snowy 2.0, Battery of a Nation, National Electric Vehicle Strategy)."

In a Letter to the Editor to the Eden Magnet, she hedged her bets.

KOTVOJS – EDEN MAGNET – 14 MARCH 2019

MARCH 14 2019 - 7:00AM

Thanks for clarifying

I would like to thank Denise Dion for correcting her reporting of my comments at the Australian Conservation Foundation federal candidates’ forum at Merimbula in the online version of the article.

For those who have not seen this, and to expand for those who have, the actual words I used were “Humans are contributing to climate change. There is no denying that, but the issue is to what extent, and what are we going to do. It is a balance, and the problems we have in the climate change debate is that we have two extremes; you are at this end or you at that end.

"I have heard people in here automatically define me as a climate-change denier. I am not, but the debate and the discussion is complex and at the present moment we are not solving it and we are not progressing because people are being pushed into one extreme or the other and unless we listen we will never solve any problems, this being one of them.”

Fiona Kotvojs, Liberal for Eden-Monaro

Kotvojs’s also relied on the Coalition’s talking points, which passes the buck to a global solution.

KOTVOJS – BEGA DISTRICT NEWS – 10 OCTOBER 2018

OCTOBER 10 2018 - 4:30PM

Climate change policy a heated issue: ‘They have betrayed our kids’

But after reading the IPCC report, Liberals candidate for Eden-Monaro Fiona Kotvojs said it was important to take into account Australia’s achievements as it beat its first Kyoto target by 128million tonnes and its emissions were currently at their lowest level on a per capita and GDP basis in 28 years.

“Our Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly expressed his, and the Coalition government’s, commitment to achieving our Paris target – reducing emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030,” she said.

“Through a range of policy measures such as the Emissions Reduction Fund and safeguard mechanism, the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Snowy 2.0 and energy efficiency measures, this target can be achieved without impacting our electricity prices.”

Dr Kotvojs said it was also important to remember climate change was a global problem requiring a global solution and Australia contributed just over one per cent of emissions.

“I believe that Australia must do our part, but achieving a change requires a global solution and we must each make our own contribution to this,” she said.

Lotvojs dismissed climate change as an issue of concern for Pacific Islands

KOTVOJS – AFR – 21 AUG 2019

Diabetes devastating the Pacific, not sea level scares

Australia should focus on the real threats to Pacific islanders rather than exaggerated ones.

Fiona Kotvojs

Aug 21, 2019 – 12.00am

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The focus of much of the media coverage of last week's Pacific Leader’s Forum has been on climate change risk and how other countries in the neighbouring region, such as Australia with its large fossil-fuel sector, should respond. But what is largely ignored is whether climate change really is the greatest threat to Pacific island nations.

We are told that climate change will lead to countries such as Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tokelau drowning under a rising ocean. But the reality is that research consistently shows that the land area in these countries has increased over the past 40 years. This is to be expected since these islands largely comprise coral and shell debris eroded from the surrounding reef, which is thrown onshore by waves and moved inland during storm surge events and by wind. Provided the rate of coral growth continues to balance sea level rise, these islands will continue to grow.

Despite the evidence, many people continue to propagate the position that these islands will drown. The myth that cyclones are increasing due to climate change continues to be perpetuated despite the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stating that there is no evidence for this claim. These myths have created unwarranted fear and adversely affected national investment decisions.

The real threats to the long-term viability of these low-lying Pacific islands include increased urbanisation and health issues. Urbanisation has led to reclamation of coastal lands. This causes increased coastal erosion as the new structure causes erosion on neighbouring properties and in some cases, loss of mangroves. Where rubbish is used as part of the landfill, there is also the potential of leachate from this landfill damaging the coastal environment. The increased population pressures in urban areas means that in some cases, people build (usually on stilts) in areas that have been used as borrow pits -- removing material for reclamation -- since World War II and are now below sea level. Each high tide, these areas fill with water. The main cause of erosion on these islands is not sea level rise. Instead it is the construction of poorly designed boat ramps and boat channels, seawalls and reclamation works. Until the real cause of the problem is identified, it will never be solved.

The population of Tuvalu will be destroyed by diabetes long before the island is drowned by a rising sea level. The World Health Organisation identified that about 23 per cent of the population has diabetes. The figures for Kiribati are similar. This is more than three times the rate in Australia. This high rate is evident in the number of people you see with amputations because of diabetes. The only place I have seen more amputations is in Cambodia, due to landmines. Tuberculosis is on the rise. WHO reports that of every 100,000 people, 566 in Kiribati, 207 in Tuvalu and six in Australia have tuberculosis.

The creation of unjustified fear is inexcusable. We need to look at the realities of how Pacific islands, particularly atolls, are formed and grow. We must recognise that they are dynamic and evolve. In that environment, rising sea levels do not automatically mean shrinking landmass and drowning islands. It is all too easy to blame someone and something else for a problem. That way we do not have to do anything ourselves. Let’s look at the real causes of problems and address these, rather than blaming something that only others can fix.

Australia needs to take a strong position and continue to support our Pacific neighbours where they have greatest need -- rather than simply investing where there is greatest media focus. That is what a good neighbour does.

Dr Fiona Kotvojs is a development specialist with almost 30 years experience working across the Pacific, including Kiribati, Tuvalu and Tokelau. She has an honours degree in coastal geomorphology and spent many years working on coral atolls. Dr Kotvojs currently designs and evaluates international development programs across the Pacific and south-east Asia.


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NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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