Why Tony Abbott won’t be invited to Paris climate talks

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

France is trying to avoid a repeat of the Copenhagen disaster by keeping heads of state away from the Paris climate talks. But it has also singled out Australian and Canada as likely roadblocks. Those two countries were named overnight the two worst performers on climate among industrial nations.

share
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

France is trying to avoid a repeat of the Copenhagen disaster by keeping heads of state away from the Paris climate talks. But it has also singled out Australia and Canada as likely roadblocks.

LIMA: The French government believes it has found a way to avoid the train crash of the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009 and maximise the chance of success in Paris in 2015 – keep global leaders right away from it.

And that most certainly includes Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his terrible carbon twin, Canada’s Steve Harper, whose countries were overnight named as the two worst supporting industrial countries on climate change. Only Saudi Arabia was worse. It should be remembered that Australia and the Saudis were the big hold-outs in the lead up to the Kyoto agreement in 1997 – so little has changed.

In a little-reported speech to French ambassadors in Paris in August, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius singled out Australia and Canada as two of the biggest obstacles to attaining a climate deal in December next year.

“It will be easy to convince a country already on board, but the task will be difficult for our ambassadors in Australia and Canada,” Fabius told the cream of France’s diplomatic corps.

That work will have to happen in the interim, because France – which is staking its diplomat reputation on a successful outcome – does not want to wait until the 11th hour to obtain a political solution.

Fabius said Copenhagen failed because it relied on leaders to reach agreement at the last moment. “It was thought their presence would help find a solution at the last minute. They agreed to something, but it was rejected by the plenary.”cop15_finale_20091219-123705-6_web

Since that time there have been five climate summits and few political leaders, as negotiators and ministers started from scratch to put together a replacement for Kyoto that would formalise the aspirational goal agreed in Copenhagen, to try and limit average global warming to below 2°C, and to get all countries to make a contribution.

The comments by Fabius were confirmed by France’s negotiating team in Lima, who suggested that if the leaders were needed at all, it might be for a signature and a photo opportunity, not for the work itself.

“There are always some heads of state who invite themselves to the COP – conference of parties, the official name of the climate negotiations,” a spokesperson said on behalf of Laurence Tubiana, ambassador for climate change and special representative for the COP21, as the talks in Paris are officially known.

“There will be some (leaders) in Lima. No one will stop them coming. We will see for Paris. In our view, it’s foremost the responsibility of ministers to negotiate at the COPs.”

Alden Meyer, from the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists and a veteran watcher of these COPs, said the role of leaders was to give political signals, and let negotiators work out the details, and ministers to resolve the points of contention.

“In Copenhagen, we had it in the wrong order. We had the negotiators trying to work at their level, and we came up with several hundred pages of text and a lot of disagreement,” Meyer told RenewEconomy.

“Then you had the ministers coming in… but they were already looking over their shoulder knowing their leaders were going to come in the next few days, and not wanting to pre-empt them.

“And of course the leaders arrived and there was a huge textual morass. One thing that leaders can’t and shouldn’t do is negotiate text.

“Leaders need to send political signals both individually and collectively in the run-up to Paris about the need for an ambitious and comprehensive agreement, possibly on the phone before and during Paris, as they were in Kyoto in 1997, to broker any last minute challenges. “

And, Meyer noted, there will be plenty of opportunity for leaders to discuss the issue, such as at the next G20 meting in turkey, where it will be a central issue, unlike in Australia, and at the UN annual conference in September.

Australia and Canada’s conservative leaders have distinguished themselves with their opposition to climate policies, and carbon trading in particular, and their insistence on exploiting their vast fossil fuel reserves – in Australia’s case the thermal coal deposits in Queensland, and in Canada’s case the tar sands.

But Fabius wants strong ambition targets, something he may struggle to get from the likes of Australia and Canada. And he wants it to be a binding treaty, some few expect will be achieved, not least because the targets delivered by Paris will not deliver the 2°C outcome that they are supposed to.

Analysts say it will be impossible to get both, and it won’t deliver the “big bang” moment that many were expecting in Copenhagen.

“I don’t think people will be looking at Paris like they were looking at Copenhagen,” Meyer said. “It will be an important moment along the way. Important that it sends a strong signal on the long-term direction and the need to phase out fossil fuels emissions by mid century.

“It is also important that Paris sends a signal that ambition is going to be ratcheted upward fairly quickly, so you don’t lock in low ambition for decades to come.

“It would be wrong to assume that in one fell swoop Paris will close the gap between where we are and where we need to be. That will be a work of years, not months.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

18 Comments
  1. barrie harrop 4 years ago

    Aust PM,will be too busy for Paris in any event trying to save his skin for a 2nd term,which is now looking shaky,as recent Fisher Sth Aust by election swing of up to 9% show no safe Liberal seat in country.

    • Ben Wilson 4 years ago

      If that slimy creep wins a second term there is no hope for Australia he’s already done significant harm to this country and its only been 15 months

      • Marg1 4 years ago

        Have to agree with you there – if he wins a second term we are doomed.

  2. Alan Baird 4 years ago

    Yes, Tony will DEFINITELY have to sell his arse, sorry, posterior, this time around. This will, however, be problematic seeing he IS Australia’s “suppository of wisdom” (despite his denials) which will no doubt “get in the way” of this course of action. Possibly he’s not anally retentive which could assist matters.

  3. Rob G 4 years ago

    Tony is probably preparing his next “Coal is good for humanity” speech, in Paris. What’s interesting is his current position is becoming an election losing one (just look at the recent polls). I would go as far as to suggest that climate played a big role in the recent LNP lose in VIC. And I’m also betting the LNP’s brains trust haven’t even included climate inaction in their post-mortem analysis. Their arrogance is such that they dismiss it.

  4. Chris Fraser 4 years ago

    We rather like the idea of a Tony Free Zone.

    • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

      For any other pretending Aussie Ministers who are just there for frequent flyer points and the free alcohol, they could put out a bug zapper as a welcome.

  5. michael 4 years ago

    “insistence on exploiting their vast fossil fuel reserves – in Australia’s case the thermal coal deposits in Queensland, and in Canada’s case the tar sands.”
    isn’t australia 5th on a list of coal producers in the world? at just under 10% of the gross production of china who heads the list. seems like we are more a coal minnow.

    • Ben Wilson 4 years ago

      Its the type of coal being produced, Australia is one of two primary producers of thermal coal that is that rich black stuff that looks like charcoal, its the highest grade of coal. China has banned the use of brown coal and will only import thermal coal and consider the lesser grades of black coal

  6. tsport100 4 years ago

    The Coalition didn’t win the last Fed election, Labor lost with their idiotic leadership battles.

    Abbott and Co obviously have memories like goldfish! One of the big reasons Howard got kicked out was because he refused to sign Kyoto and here’s Abbott embarrassing the nation from Day 1 in office on the exact same topic…

    This bloke is looking to be the shortest term PM in history! “shortest term prime minister australia” is already trending on Google!

    • Ben Wilson 4 years ago

      The word is that Julie Bishop is set to knife him over the holidays have a new cabinet ready for the first sitting in Feb

  7. michael 4 years ago

    no article on Dr Chu, “a Nobel laureate physicist plucked from academia to serve as US
    secretary of energy from January 2009 until April last year” for Obama, and his talking up of Nuclear? with the Obama love on this publication, I would have thought the thinking of his lead Energy man would be taken on board and discussed… tomorrow giles?

    • Alan Baird 4 years ago

      “Obama love”? Where DO you get these ideas? You seem to exist in a strange place where you can project emotions (which you appear to make up) on to other people simply because they don’t agree with you. Obama is a fairly conservative man. He’s just not quite as extreme Right as the Tea Party guys. Or perhaps like the Tea Party types, you really DO believe that the man can be communist AND fascist simultaneously. Easy to say if you’re equipped with a Tea Party brain but impossible for most people with a rough idea of history. Don’t accuse this thread of silly things like the above.

      • michael 4 years ago

        there’s a long bow, where did the tea party come into this? and communism etc. was purely a question on nuclear energy and why it gets a rough run, when the man who came up with the obama position on energy (ie that guy that was congratulated on his energy related speech at QU, and how anti-Abbott it was) is saying it should get a fair hearing…. that’s all. But please do keep jumping at shadows.

        • Alan Baird 4 years ago

          When you assume that everybody on this site is suffused with Obama-love YOU are automatically IN TURN assumed to be conflating love of Obama and opposition to nuclear power. Don’t therefore make the initial accusation as the Tea Party commonly does. For example, I took on board Lovelock’s point on nuclear (that it could be a useful replacement for coal) years ago. I’m not doctrinaire on this point. Obama’s new representative makes the very pertinent argument that there is a greater spread of radiation from coal (via fly ash) than nuclear power plants. When you start talking like a Tea Party type you make Murdoch-talk and my attitude is to attack JUST LIKE Murdoch. They do this routinely and it has become treated as acceptable so what’s sauce for the goose… And I still regard Obama as a quite conservative politician, as are the vast majority of the Democrats in the USA. He’s no lefty. It’s just that the Republicans are off to the Lunar Right. Also, the Tea Party commentariat DID at various times accuse Obama of absurdly being a fascist and communist simultaneously. This indicates the sophistication of their politics and they routinely use terms like “Obama-love” as a term of abuse. I have NEVER fawned over him or his politics.

          • michael 4 years ago

            Fair enough, probably can’t put that nuanced an American spin on comments of an australian. The love of Obama referred to was about sections of the Australian press who get giggly when Obama speaks and particularly if it seems like it is counter to the liberal party position, similar with the great environmental hope for our earth, China. I wouldn’t have a clue about the tea party position on nuclear, purely a personal affinity for it since I was a kid and reinforced through an engineering degree

  8. Lifeboatman 4 years ago

    Tony Abbott reckons that Climate Changes is crap. The reality is that the only crap is what he sees in his shaving mirror each morning. Abbotts Gotta Go

  9. mike flanagan 4 years ago

    Hang on Giles! We were all planning on having a rest from the idiot while he toured the ancient catholic bordellos of Paris. Have a heart Giles!

Comments are closed.