Friday 24 Sep 2021 | 17:18 | SYDNEY
Friday 24 Sep 2021 | 17:18 | SYDNEY

Greg Hunt international solution


Sam Roggeveen


12 July 2011 12:25

Yesterday I said that, given the Government's Clean Energy Future plan is based partly on the 'heroic assumption' that there will be a global agreement on carbon trading some time down the track, it should have set aside some resources and developed a plan to help bring about such an agreement.

Judging by yesterday's speech by Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Greg Hunt (audio here), the Opposition agrees that international action is the key to tackling carbon emissions: 'The sheer global numbers make it clear that solutions have to come at the international level', Hunt said yesterday. But what kind of solution?

...the all-in UN negotiating approach of 180 countries locked in a convention centre with up to 40,000 observers is increasingly ineffective. Need I say any more than Copenhagen. In the real world, any progress will be between the United States, China, India and the EU.

We should therefore task the G20 with a special responsibility for negotiating a four-way compact between these players. If we can do that then we have a genuine base for a future global agreement.

Hunt is probably right to think that getting agreement from 180 countries (actually, I believe it was 192 countries that gathered in Copenhagen) is asking too much. And four certainly sounds like a lot less than 180, so superficially, at least, Hunt is being much more pragmatic than those starry-eyed multilateral idealists in the Labor Party.

But when the negotiations got really serious in Copenhagen (see photo), those four were the main players around the table anyway. In the end it was they who decided the fate of the Copenhagen conference, not the assembled nations. Four sounds like a less than 180, but in practice, Hunt's proposal is not that much different to what actually happened in Copenhagen, and probably stands about as much chance of success.