Peter Woolcott

Defending Australia's show-me-yours-before-we-show-you-ours approach’ to emissions targets

Australia has earned bad guy status at the negotiations ever since Tony Abbott became prime minister in 2013. Long-time lead negotiator Justin Lee has been replaced by Peter Woolcott, and Australia has adopted a ‘show-me-yours-before-we-show-you-ours’ approach to any emissions targets.

Woolcott is a career diplomat whose previous positions include being Australian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva and Australian Ambassador to Italy. He has the unenviable task of balancing his prime minister’s apathy on climate change with global sentiment on the issue.

Australian negotiators disrupted a key meeting on Loss and Damage at the Warsaw talks by showing up in shorts and T-shirts, and gorging themselves on snacks in the meeting room late at night. Many delegates found this offensive, and some viewed it as a deliberate show of resistance to what was going on in the discussions.