If you think Wong and Rudd have been having a difficult time with the UNFCCC negotiations in Bali, pity DFAT titan Jan Adams, Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment.

Adams is a public servant par excellence; her negotiating skills within the UNFCCC were responsible for Australia’s special treatment under the Convention. In other words, if you give her a brief, she will get you exactly what you want.

Her problem in Bali has been that she has had no brief at all. It’s more than likely that the Liberal Party brief for Bali would have been completed about two weeks prior to the election being called.

Howard knew precisely what he wanted out of the Conference. Don’t forget that the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) was within the Prime Minister’s own portfolio – it was well out of reach of Turnbull and his predecessors.

The AGO understands the workings of Kyoto superbly, how it fitted with Howard’s views, and how it might integrate with the Australian Emissions Trading System.

Despite Rudd’s election promise to ratify Kyoto, his Party’s knowledge of the UNFCCC – possibly the largest, most politicised, non-specific and abstract multilateral environmental agreement in existence – was, frankly, close to non-existent.

At the beginning of the first week, getting close to Australian officials was difficult. Regulars on the diplomatic circuit couldn’t get answers on the new ALP brief. At the end of the first week — and following a string of gaffes — it became clear there was no clear brief.

Adding to this was the rumour that Jan Adams was receiving policy advice from Canberra via text message during meetings.

The fallback position was always going to be to revert to Ross Garnaut’s forthcoming climate report, though no-one was quite expecting it to happen with a full five days of negotiations left.