JULIE BISHOP: Good evening. After an all-night negotiating session, the President of COP, the French Foreign Minister Lauren Fabius, has released a revised draft of the agreement. I have just chaired a meeting of the Umbrella Group and we have discussed our initial reactions to the revised draft.
Negotiations are at a delicate stage and we are about to go into the Indaba of Solutions format. Essentially we want to secure an agreement that is ambitious, and ambition is captured by creating a framework for all countries to take action, by ensuring transparency in the system and also ensuring that there are regular, synchronised five-yearly reviews. There are some issues that are still outstanding that will need a lot of negotiation overnight. There’s a lot of work still to be done, particularly on the issue of climate finance and on the issue of the developing /developed country divide. The agreement is somewhat confusing in that regard. In some instances bifurcation is adopted, in other instances it’s about all parties. So I’m now about to head into the Indaba of Solutions and will make a number of interventions and support other positions being put forward by Umbrella Group.
JOURNALIST: But, what you could have got, this is more positive than what a lot were expecting?
JULIE BISHOP: I think that the text is about 80 per cent there. There are still a number of options that could go either way but this is more positive than some were expecting. But I remain hopeful that we will secure an agreement that ensures that all parties take action, that is transparent, that there’s transparency built into it, and that we have these regular, synchronised five yearly reviews.
JOURNALIST: And how critical is it that the 1.5 degrees celsius is back in the mix and appears to be solid.
JULIE BISHOP: That’s important and Australia has been a strong advocate. We have always maintained a “well below” two degree goal. But in this instance we have taken into account the small island developing states, particularly in the Pacific, and we know it’s important to them so we’ve said that there should be an appropriate reference to 1.5 and I believe there is.
JOURNALIST: India has previously said it would only accept 10-year time frames for its targets. Do you think it will agree to a deal that has five-years for that in the final text?
JULIE BISHOP: Well we’ll see. There’s certainly significant support for five-yearly reviews and I think that’s where the majority of opinion is. There are going to have to be compromises on all sides. And that’s what tonight will be about. I’m expecting an all-night session. This is meant to be the penultimate draft so there will be one more attempt at this tomorrow.
JOURNALIST: Could it all still fall over?
JULIE BISHOP: I don’t believe so. I’m hopeful. I think there’s still a lot of good will. There are some differing positions but compromises will have to be made and overall people don’t want this to be another Copenhagen. There is a sense of optimism. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to secure an agreement that is in Australia’s national interests.
JOURNALIST: Minister you talk about making concessions. What concessions is Australia willing to make? We have carbon credits that are left over from Kyoto and at least five European nations have handed those back as a goodwill gesture to actually reduce emissions. Is that something that Australia would be prepared to put back on the table as a goodwill gesture to achieving an ambitious outcome here?
JULIE BISHOP: This is not about Australia making a gesture. What we’re seeking to do is get some important points of agreement on some very fundamental issues and they remain ambition, transparency and differentiation, and they are the issues that we are focusing upon at this stage.
JOURNALIST: One more question about ambition. Is there enough still in that 80 per cent to achieve an ambitious agreement?
JULIE BISHOP: We hope so, we really do. On ambition we think we can secure that in the agreement in the ways I’ve indicated. We think that there’s a lot of goodwill and ambition is obviously a fundamental issue for us and the Umbrella Group so we’ll see how it plays out in the Indaba of Solutions now.
JOURNALIST: Minister Fabius said the next stage is only going to be about compromises, it’s not going to be about staying original positions. How confident are you that people will play ball on that?
JULIE BISHOP: Well the President has made it quite clear that we are now getting down to the nitty-gritty. This is not a time for people to make speeches, to go over their old positions. This is a time for solutions so that’s the approach that I’ll be taking in this meeting now. We have a number of interventions to make, as do other members of the Umbrella Group. We’ve discussed those now and there’s broad agreement amongst the Umbrella Group as to where we hope this will head and I suspect it’s going to be a very long night but the feeling today was that people are prepared to make compromises.
JOURNALIST: Who are the countries that are still putting the blocks up?
JULIE BISHOP: As I said we’re at a pretty delicate state of negotiations and I don’t want to start pointing the finger at countries. What we’re trying to do is get everybody on board, ensuring that we can meet the concerns, that compromises can be made. There are still a number of options as you will see in the revised draft and so it’s a question of convincing the Presidency, advocating our position and winning over those who don’t support it.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned one final day. Are you ruling out the prospect of rolling into the weekend?
JULIE BISHOP: No I am not ruling it out but I note that the Presidency has indicated that this will be finalised at 6 o’clock on Friday evening and they’ve maintained that and I think that’s a positive thing to maintain that momentum to finish by 6 o’clock on Friday, but it might go over into the weekend.
JOURNALIST: In the six hours between when the draft text was due to be released and when it was released, was there meetings with the French Presidency and do you know whether the French Presidency ran past some of the decisions in that meeting of the draft text with the big players?
JULIE BISHOP: There have been ongoing meetings. They have been constant so in that six hours there’ve been many meetings. I’m hoping to have another meeting with the French President of COP during the course of the evening.
JOURNALIST: Was the latest draft that caused any redlines for the Umbrella Group?
JULIE BISHOP: Not yet.
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