We write as we are in transit in Santiago, making the proverbial trek from Sydney to Lima, Peru. Beautiful views of the snow capped Andes mountain range greeted us as we flew in but, despite the beauty, I wondered what my first trip to the South American continent might hold beneath the surface.
My expectations for my first trip to South American contingent are high; the mountains, the people, the history, the food, the textiles. However my expectations for the COP 20 (the 20th Conference of Parties, i.e. global climate change talks) are low. After the world wide hype of what was the failed COP15 in Copenhagen,a degree of caution is necessary so as not to be ultimately disappointed. After the year we have had at home in Australia, with PM Abbott tearing down our clean energy package, singing the praises of coal from the smoke stacks, and devastating investment in renewables, optimism is in short supply. It is difficult to see how Australia, with this domestic context, will be able to contribute anything useful internationally.
The primary task of Senator Milne and I, alongside civil society and many other nations, is ensuring that even if Australia retains it's recalcitrance, it does not run interference with those countries who want to get on with the task. Or, and perhaps more importantly, does not infect others with our Prime Minister's climate denialism and belief in technologies which tie us to the coal age. It's going to be tough as the rest of the world is moving on at a rapid pace, but here we go! - Emma