Culpability or compromise: Australia's choice

In coming hours Australia will either help repair or further inflame damaged diplomatic links and brittle climate talks that it has, perhaps harshly, copped blame over.

A combination of political and ideological fire-breathing at home in Australia, apparent obduracy in these talks and despair at the Abbott government’s real or potential backsliding has helped put a torch to trust and ambition in the early stages of these UN climate negotiations in Warsaw.

Adding fuel to the fire have been Japan’s actions, turning a significant emissions reduction pledge into an emissions increase pledge, along with provocative and cavalier moves from host Poland.

This has counter balanced more constructive engagement by other developed countries – such as the US, UK and Europe.

Ironically, though, Australia probably hasn’t deserved all the criticism dished out to it here as it hasn’t actually moved much on formal positions regarding target range, their conditions or even on the concept of climate financing. 

But Australia has deserved criticism for comments at the Commonwealth and Canberra that have challenged core concepts, and has often been accused by other negotiators of less than helpful behaviour – not all of whom are without blame themselves.”

The most significant change is the dropping of political support for the Green Climate Fund for which Australia was a co-chair and which is an important part of the international climate architecture – there has been no repudiation of the need for climate financing. Prior to the election the Coalition did express a preference for bilateral (nation to nation) funding.

Despite these challenges the talks are going into delicate stages with three core issues dominating final discussions. These are:

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