The run-up to COP… 31?

A guest piece by Dan Ilic

As the COP28 climate talks kick off in Dubai later this month, there are two intriguing tussles playing out for the right to run COP31 in 2026.

The first is an international tussle between Turkey and Australia, who’ve both submitted bids. For Turkey, it’s a flex to bring east and west to its table. And for the fossil fuel leviathan, Australia, it’s a show of ambition to shake its image as a global climate pariah.

Australia isn’t on its own. In principle, it’s a joint bid with Pacific Island nations. The same nations that have been very vocal this month in criticising the two-year-old Labor government for its approach to emissions reduction and fossil fuel subsidies.

Despite these grumbles, the Australia-Pacific bid looks the strongest of the two.

Turkey has a full plate already: it’s dealing with local crises, natural disasters, and regional conflicts. So it’s expected to drop out, leaving the Australia-Pacific bid the only one standing. A nice change, as historically it’s been Australia that backs away from Turkey.

The second tussle is a domestic one within Australia, where there’s a huge appetite to nab the climate talks ASAP and shore-up voter support ahead of next year’s elections. 

The polls aren’t looking like a slam dunk for the ruling Labor party, meaning there’s a chance it could win the COP31 hosting rights but lose power at home before the summit actually arrives. So then who ends up co-hosting the world’s climate change talks in 2026? 

That would be Australia’s more COP-sceptical opposition. And who knows where that would leave the COP itself.

Intrigue’s take: Dan Ilic is an award-winning Australian comedian and investigative humourist. His very own A Rational Fear has been named Australia’s comedy podcast of the year since 2020. We’re chuffed he’s shared his perspectives with us today.

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