Another year, another climate conference. Another round of name-calling, blame-pinning and hand-wringing. Another set of vaguely worded commitments. Another pledge to do better the next time around.
In case you missed them, two weeks of international climate talks in Warsaw wrapped up last week. And yes, there was little on the surface to distinguish their « blurry » outcome, in the words of Politico, from the negotiations of the year before, or the year before that, or the year…
But Warsaw also signalled a power shift with global implications, caused by an emerging alliance between two middle-power countries skeptical of the entire negotiation process: Canada and Australia. The alliance pushed the talks in a less constructive direction. It may even affect humankind’s chances of reaching an effective climate treaty two years from now, in Paris. Or so argues Erwin Jackson, of Australia’s Climate Institute, who’s worked on global warming for over 20 years.
« One of the reasons… why Warsaw was so difficult was that you saw Australia lining up more with Canada in terms of its domestic policies and also in the posture it was taking, » Jackson told The Tyee. The outcome at such talks is ultimately decided by the U.S., China and other major powers. But to push the negotiations in a positive direction, he said, « you need middle-power countries [like Canada and Australia] to come up with constructive proposals. » And in Warsaw we saw the exact opposite.