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Copenhagen two-stage compromise proposed -

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SHANE MCLEOD: Compromise looks to be on the agenda for next month's climate talks in Copenhagen.
There's growing recognition - or is that resignation - that the talks won't result deliver the
treaty to follow the Kyoto protocol.

So a two-step process is taking shape promoted by the Danish Prime Minister at the APEC summit in
Singapore at the weekend. The compromise plan would still see world leaders gather in Denmark next
month, and they'd be under pressure to nail out the terms of the proposed treaty. But the treaty
itself wouldn't be finalised for at least six months after that.

I asked Irwin Jackson from the Climate Institute if it was a surprise that Copenhagen won't deliver
the new climate treaty.

IRWIN JACKSON: It's not a surprise and I don't think we should be judging Copenhagen on whether it
delivers a binding treaty or not. What Copenhagen has to deliver is a political and soft legal
springboard towards finalisation of a new treaty within six months of the meeting in December.

SHANE MCLEOD: So that is now off the agenda for December?

IRWIN JACKSON: I think so and the negotiators and the people who've been observing the process
closely have seen that this is not, a treaty hasn't been likely now for at least three months.

But the key thing that Copenhagen has to do is it has to deliver a political agreement on the key
political barriers to action and that is that the level of ambition in terms of developed country
targets and developing country actions, it has to deliver political consensus about how we're going
to unlock the private and public sector financing that developing countries need.

And it has to deliver an agreement that we are going to negotiate a binding treaty which has
transparent and accountable commitments on all major emitters.

SHANE MCLEOD: Is this going to result in another six months, will that not just give negotiators
more time to stall and not really reach an agreement on these issues?

IRWIN JACKSON: Well that's why Copenhagen is absolutely critical that the steps forward are laid
out in black and white in an international agreement. The real risk that Copenhagen will turn into
a green-wash outcome if leaders turn up and don't agree to drive the process forward in a
consolidated and time-bound way.

The real risk of Copenhagen is really that we lose momentum at an international level and we just
backslide into a Doha round kind of international process.

SHANE MCLEOD: You have two of those major emitters at forums now where they can discuss these
things. Barack Obama is in China. Would you expect that they can come to any agreement that might
drive these things forward at this late stage?

IRWIN JACKSON: Well I think the key thing for countries like Australia whose national interest is
in achieving an ambitious outcome from Copenhagen and beyond that what these countries have to do
is agree not to go it by themselves.

These two countries have to come forward and clearly state that they are going to work with the
international community to take the domestic policies that they are both putting in place at the
moment in their countries and translate them into an international treaty.

Unless the international community has the confidence that China and the United States in
particular are going to translate their domestic laws into international laws, we will see the
disintegration of the global regime.

SHANE MCLEOD: There had been a lot of hope that some form of agreement between the US and China
might be the bedrock to actually formalising the political agreement at Copenhagen and beyond. Do
you think that is likely now?

IRWIN JACKSON: I don't think that there's enough trust and confidence amongst countries at this
point and that's in large part due to developed counties not coming forward with how they are going
to unlock the private and public sector financing in developing countries.

It's also due in part the fact that the level of ambition that's being put forward by developed
countries as a group at the moment is insufficient to give China, India, Brazil and South Africa
the confidence that they're not going to be left carrying the can for the inadequacy of developed
country targets.

So it's unlikely that we're going to see any major breakthroughs in China over the next couple of
days.

SHANE MCLEOD: And what role can Australia play? If this is going to be a two-stage process, where
would Australia's energies best be directed?

IRWIN JACKSON: Well I think the Prime Minister has to continue the role he's playing at an
international level by trying to drive political consensus amongst heads of government.

But critically Australia also has to come forward and articulate a vision of how it is going to
deliver public and private sector financing to developing countries.

This remains a key political sticking point. We cannot expect developing countries to come forward
and put more ambitious commitments on the table unless they're going to see financing from the
developed world coming forth.

So that is a key political issue which Australia can help build momentum around by coming forward
and putting forward its own proposals on how to deal with the financing question.

SHANE MCLEOD: There's been some criticism of the United States from some of the European countries
overnight. Is the US still the biggest obstacle to this agreement?

IRWIN JACKSON: Well it's probably two thirds of the problem at the moment. And I say that from the
point of view, while they're moving forward domestically with a whole range of policies and
measures to improve their carbon productivity and boost investment in renewable energy, because
we're unlikely to see a final vote in the Senate before Copenhagen, that means that it makes it
very difficult for the US to come to Copenhagen with concrete plans on financing and targets.

That said, and that's really the key barrier to getting an effective outcome in Copenhagen at the
moment.

SHANE MCLEOD: Irwin Jackson from the Climate Institute.