CANBERRA - Australia stepped up lobbying ahead of the global climate talks in Copenhagen on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd accepting a key role as Climate Change Minister Penny Wong heads to Spain for talks.
Rudd has accepted an offer from Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen to become a friend of the Copenhagen summit chair, giving him a key role in helping to forge an international deal to curb Greenhouse emissions ahead of the December meeting.
The leaders engaged by Prime Minister Rasmussen will conduct regular discussions in the lead up to Copenhagen focused on delivering effective action on climate change, a spokesman for Rudd told Reuters.
The spokesman said Rudd would go to Copenhagen if the summit became a leaders' meeting, and if his attendance would help bring about an effective outcome, adding it was critical for leaders to be engaged ahead of the meeting.
Wong, who is negotiating to push laws for a domestic carbon-trade scheme through Australia's parliament, will attend a Barcelona meeting of environment ministers from Thursday, where she will push for progress ahead of the Copenhagen talks.
We are just weeks out from Copenhagen and at a critical stage in negotiations. This is an important opportunity for countries to make progress on key issues central to achieving consensus in Copenhagen.
Australia has proposed a system of national schedules which will allow developed countries to set individual carbon reduction targets, and allow developing nations to record actions tailored to their circumstances.
Australia has promised to cut greenhouse emissions, blamed for global warming, by 5 percent, or up to 25 percent if other countries agree to take strong action to curb emissions.
Australia, the world's biggest coal exporter, accounts for about 1.5 percent of global emissions but is one of the highest per capital emitters due to a reliance on coal for about 80 percent of electricity generation.
(Editing by Sugita Katyal)