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COP27 Day 11: Australia steps up in the dash to the finish line

With only two official days left to COP27, it's the final dash to the finish line, as parties to the Paris Agreement work furiously to move the needle in collective climate action.

The ministers have now been handed the baton by officials who had laboured over long and often densely technical texts over the first seven days of the conference to find agreements on what should be done and the process by which we'd get there.

It will now be a period of intense haggling and winnowing down of these texts by ministers and officials behind closed doors. And in a coup of sorts for Australia, Climate Change and Energy Minister, Chris Bowen, was invited on Tuesday by the COP President, Sameh Shoukry (Egypt's Foreign Minister), to lead the negotiations in the COP communique, known as the 'cover decision'.

The honour has not been bestowed on Australia in more than a decade, and according to Bowen, it reflects our improved standing in the climate negotiations. Minister Bowen will now be spending the coming few days locked in tens of meetings seeking to secure consensus – and consensus of 190-plus countries is required – on a high-level decision text which advances global climate action across mitigation efforts, adaptation and climate finance.

Progress can't be taken for granted. Indeed, the non-government organisations observing this conference are growing increasingly worried and frustrated about the potential for 'backsliding' on what had already been agreed in the Glasgow Treaty in 2021, with rumours swirling that the 1.5°C commitment had not even been proposed for inclusion in the central decision text.

Bowen told a group of Australian stakeholders gathered at a reception hosted by the Clean Energy Council and Carbon Market Institute on Tuesday night that although we'd like to think that every COP would represent progress, unfortunately, Australia and others would need to continue 'to fight to protect what was already done'.

It's a fight that a veteran of Australia's own climate wars is likely to be well prepared for.

Read more updates from COP27