New approach needed to climate talks Media Release

Mar 31, 2010 - 1:00pm

A new era of climate multilateralism is needed to clear roadblocks thrown up by fraught negotiations at last year’s UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, The Climate Institute CEO John Connor said in his address* to The Lowy Institute for International Policy today.

“The difficulties of a consensus approach to complex global negotiations were made painfully clear at Copenhagen with the fracturing of key negotiating blocs and rising distrust between developed and developing countries.

“We need to usher in a new era of climate multilateralism that uses more agile and leader led forums such as the G20 to operate alongside the at times unwieldy consensus UN process.

“This will require a deft balancing of shifting geopolitical forces and continued investment in building fragile trust between developed and developing countries large and small. 

“It also requires continued policy reform at the domestic level, leading to real and internationally verified cuts in carbon pollution.”

“Australia put in a solid performance before and at the Copenhagen talks but there are signs of slippage in its aftermath.”

“The key task is to rebuild momentum, trust and then ambition through this year and next.”

“The UN process can’t be abandoned and there are achievable goals possible in key areas but it also may not be the best venue in the short term for building the ambition needed for stronger commitments.”

“Smaller, more agile and leader led forums like the G20 can provide key opportunities to build momentum but they need to allow voices for smaller more vulnerable countries to come to the table.

“Australia has been an influential middle power, helpful and unhelpful, in climate and other global forums but it now faces a crossroad as the shadows of Copenhagen dim, will it be creative and committed or return to past obstructionism?”

Mr Connor’s address highlighted that despite the disappointments at Copenhagen, it didn’t go backwards, just not as forward as much as hoped or hyped.

It also pointed to a range of developments, including significant increases in global clean technology investments that Australia risks missing out on, to allow a glass half full approach to the talks.

“Copenhagen failed to achieve the holy grail many sought but there is the chance to fill a more earthly glass and rebuild momentum, trust and ambition but this will need movement on three fronts:

  • The delivery of the fast start finance commitments made in Copenhagen,
  • a new approach to climate multilateralism, its forums and its factions and,
  • even more important than ever, credible domestic policies.
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