Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop has inadvertently entered Australia into a binding emissions trading agreement after accidentally texting an affirmative emoji.
Bishop, who is attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, was asked by US Secretary of State John Kerry via SMS whether Australia was prepared to enter in to an emissions trading network set by the United States government. Bishop intended to reply with a frowny face emoji to denote the Australian government’s dissatisfaction with the proposal, but unwittingly selected a thumbs up icon instead.
The extent to which the text message has influenced climate negotiations was only fully realised several hours later. At a press conference, an emboldened Secretary Kerry called upon all participating nations to sign up to their proposed emissions trading network, naming Australia in a short list of nations that had already consented.
Analysis from Attorney-General George Brandis confirmed that the emoji does constitute a binding agreement and that Australia is now compelled to meet the terms of the agreement under its international law obligations. Therefore, the Australian government has no intention of meeting the terms of the agreement.
The error has come as a great embarrassment to Minister Bishop, who had hitherto maintained a relatively high satisfaction rating by using her media appearances to discuss the international policies of foreign governments and has avoided discussing the domestic policies of the Australian government.