Multilateral system ‘struggling’ with climate change


Tackling climate change will require new kinds of coordination between countries, argues Peter Woolcott, Australia’s lead negotiator at United Nations climate talks.

The strictures of multilateral fora present a significant challenge to effective action, he says, according to a report in The Guardian.

Woolcott, who commenced his role as ambassador for the environment in November last year, is no stranger to the frustrations of multilateralism. Before taking on the mantle of climate negotiator, he was Australia’s ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva and to the notoriously gridlocked Conference on Disarmament. His final speech to the disarmament body lamented that in his four and a half years there “we have failed to even adopt a programme of work”.

The multilateral system is “struggling to cope” with the demands of a rapidly changing world, he argued in his recent speech on what Australia wants from the upcoming Paris climate conference:

“Part of the problem is history. In the multilateral setting, we tend to rely on the outcomes of old battles where they be previously agreed language, or previously agreed processes or the ways of conducting themselves and they tend to dictate or try and dictate the future.

“This is Ok if we are content with incremental progress, but we are not and we need to change the very basis in which we address climate change.”

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