As negotiations on a global climate change deal drag out to their final stages in Paris, Australia has joined an alliance of 100 countries dubbed the “high ambition coalition”.
The group, spearheaded by the Marshall Islands, calls for a strong deal at the United Nations climate change conference, with several non-negotiable demands.
It bridges the historical divide between rich and poor and large and small countries, and calls for ambitious global warming goals and five-yearly reviews of country efforts to slash emissions.
Seemingly unaware of the coalition shortly after it was revealed, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told media she’d have to check if Australia had scored an invite.
It hadn’t, however the alliance extended an open invitation to all countries on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for Ms Bishop confirmed on Friday Australia had now been invited by the European Union and had accepted.
Canada, which has been criticised alongside Australia for a lack of climate action in recent years, joined a day earlier.
Both countries have recently installed new prime ministers.
Michael Jacobs, who was special advisor to former UK prime minister Gordon Brown, believes the coalition could be a significant force in the negotiations.
Whether it was a game-changer would be seen once a deal was signed, he told AAP.
Australia had held out on joining the coalition despite supporting its intentions, saying it was focusing its attention elsewhere.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop chairs the non-European Union negotiating group of developed countries and has been holding meetings on its behalf.
When revealing the coalition, Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum said its four demands were a “single package” and the group would not be trading one off for another.
In the latest iteration of the text, released on Thursday night, many of their demands were met, including an aspirational goal to limit global warming below the previously agreed two degrees.
The text is still being negotiated however, and as conference president Laurent Fabius declared earlier in the week: “Nothing is agreed until everything is”.
WHAT THEY WANT:
* Reference to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees (is in the text)
* Clear path towards a low carbon future (emissions neutrality by second half of century in text)
* Five-yearly updates (is in the text)
* Strong package of financial support for developing nations ($100 billion per year plus scale up after 2020 is an option in the text – could be removed)