* conditions apply

G’day all (why is it that you slip into Australian-isms once you leave our sunny shores!?)

The UN climate change talks have got off to a, well, a polite and diplomatic start. The opening plenary this morning was the time for government delegations from their respective countries to come forward and share their positions on the draft negotiating texts that are on the table. Our team of 10 trackers piled in to the plenary together, rather conspicuous in our red t-shirts(!) to gain insights into the global state of play.

Check UK tracker Anna C’s blog for an awesome summary.

It wasn’t before long, that the familiar sounds of the Aussie accent rang clear in my ears. It was Louise Hand, lead negotiator here at Bonn, and our Ambassador for Climate Change stating Australia’s position on securing an ambitious global deal.

It started off well. Our government put on the record that Australia is committed to an ambitious global climate change deal that will secure a safe future not only for our great island, but for the future of our planet .

As far as I can tell, all countries agree that we need an ambitious global deal. There is no denying that anything less will mean that Pacific Islanders loose their homes to rising sea levels, more and more farmers in Africa will have their crops destroyed by drought, and fires will worsen throughout south eastern Australia as land becomes increasingly dry.

However, as was put on the table today, Australia’s ambition comes with conditions. Australia will only commit to a 25% emissions reduction if:

  • Other developed countries commit to at least a 25% reduction against 1990 levels
  • Do something which Australia is yet to do, name the year which their carbon emissions will peak (and then decline)
  • There is global action to generate finance for the global carbon markets – including contributions from developing countries

Who can spot the problems with this position?

Exactly.  Australia, as one of the world’s biggest per capita emitters is in no position to demand that developing countries, who are struggling to pull their citizens above the poverty line, take almost as strong commitments as Australia does. Likewise, it is simply unfair and unequitable to ask developing countries who have struggling economies to pay for climate change mitigation and adaptation when their contribution to the problem is a whiter shade of pale in comparison.

Australia was awarded ‘Fossil of the Day’ for this announcement, to recognise that today we were the best of the worst on climate action.

Day 1:UN Climate Change Talks in Bonn. Australia is awarded a prize for being the best of the worst on climate action

Australia is awarded first prize for being the best of the worst on climate action

The ambition of the Australian government for a global deal is really exciting! The conditions however are unequitable and unfair and will not ensure a safe future for our planet and our peoples. It’s only day one of Bonn, so things can change, right?

This morning (Tuesday) I am meeting with some of the members from the Australian government delegation. It will be a chance for me to ask how they feel about the likelihood of an ambitious deal being reached this year, and who they plan to work with to ensure that this will happen. Stay tuned.

From UN climate talks, day one