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Interview: UNFCC's Christiana Figueres

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26 October 2012 14:24

On Wednesday the Lowy Institute held a sold-out event with Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

Figueres, who happened to be at the Lowy Institute on international UN Day, gave a colourful and informative overview of the status of international climate change negotiations a month before countries meet in Doha, Qatar to nut out the details on a second Kyoto framework period.

Figueres pointed the finger at the media for its willingness to report on the failures of Copenhagen, rather than what she describes as 'rapid progress' in the last three years (in a side joke with the audience she admitted that her job, which she has held since 2010, was teaching her the virtues of patience).

Figueres addressed the touchy subject of Australia's carbon tax, reminding us that Australia is the number one per capita emitter of carbon globally, and with that comes the responsibility to act. Australia should not feel 'lonely', with Figueres listing developed and developing countries that are also considered climate change innovators. 

It's well worth watching the above interview if only for Christina's views on how our carbon tax is perceived internationally (7:12) and her refreshing perspective on how a country of our size and stature can be a better global citizen. A timely point, given Australia's recent elevation to the UN Security Council.

With Lowy Institute polling showing a slide in Australian concern for climate change and the US presidential debates not mentioning climate change for the first time since 1984, it will be interesting to see if the world is, in Figueres' words, 'in a better mood' about climate change at next month's Qatar Summit. 

A complete event video is available here, and there's also a speech transcript.