Australia's environment minister, Greg Hunt, has a tough gig.
Hunt seems legitimately interested in advancing nature conservation but his boss, the conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott, clearly is not. Abbott's government has the worst environmental record of any Australian government in living memory.
That leaves Hunt in a difficult spot. Few doubt that if he were to push conservation too strongly -- or fail to support Abbott's pro-coal, pro-mining, no-new-parks, anti-renewable-energy policies -- he'd soon be gone.
In such a setting, where domestic policy is so clearly being driven by a growth-first agenda, what is an environment minister to do? One 'safe' strategy is to focus not on matters at home, but on those abroad.
That is precisely what Hunt did this week in Sydney with his "Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit" -- a forum that proclaimed it will help Australia's tropical neighbors to protect their imperiled forests.
After interviewing Hunt, ALERT director Bill Laurance just wrote this lively critique of the event.
It's worth a quick read to see how nature conservation -- and politics -- are playing out in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.