The contrast could not have been more striking, on a stage which could not have been bigger.
On the day the world got ambitious on climate action, Prime Minister Scott Morrison got defensive.
Opening his global leaders' summit on climate earlier this week, US President Joe Biden spoke of "meeting the moment".
The 2020s, Biden said, was the "decisive" decade in which action or inaction to bring down global greenhouse gas emissions would determine if the worst consequences of climate change could be averted.
The message from the most powerful politician on the planet was clear: we must do more, and we must do more now. There is no choice.
When it came time for Australia to address the summit, Mr Morrison struck a different, far less urgent, tone.
Having confirmed ahead of the meeting that Australia wouldn't increase its 26-28 per cent 2030 emissions reduction target or firmly commit to net zero by 2050, the Prime Minister used the platform to boast of past achievement and push back at his critics - here and elsewhere.
Australia had reduced emissions faster than "most similar economies", Morrison declared, and was a world leader in the uptake of rooftop solar and the deployment of renewable energy.
Morrison talked down the importance of targets - "it's about the how, not the when" - just as the US, Canada and Japan unveiled ambitious new ones.
Technology not targets - and certainly not taxes - would deliver Australia carbon neutrality, Mr Morrison said. Australia's path to net zero would be paved with green hydrogen, green steel and carbon capture and storage projects.
The nation's clean energy journey would be led not by foreign leaders like Joe Biden, but figures and companies - like Andrew Forrest, BHP, Rio Tinto and AGL - which have made their millions from fossil fuels.
As global leaders banded together on Thursday night to chart a new path on climate action, Mr Morrison appeared content to keep Australia where it has been for years - isolated. On an island.
One wonders what international viewers made of Mr Morrison remarks, which he delivered in a front a projection of a sun-drenched Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge.
Those viewers might have recalled images of the same landscape blanketed in toxic orange smoke a little over 12 months ago, as the Black Summer fires raged across Australia's east coast.
They might have been reminded of images of masked children fleeing fires on boats, of towns levelled and animals killed.
How could the leader of a nationwhich has so recently suffered first-hand the horrific consequences of a warming planet not accept the need to plot a different path, they might have wondered.
Of course, those international viewers don't vote in Australian elections, nor do they choose who leads the Liberal-National party.
Although the speech was delivered at an international summit, and at close to midnight Australian time, it had a domestic audience in mind.
It was directed at coal mine and factory workers and their bosses, who Morrison wants to assure won't have their industries "eliminated". He wants them to know that as the transition continues there will be jobs and opportunities, including in Australia's "hydrogen valleys".
His address also sent an message to his party room, which has ripped itself apart - toppling a Prime Minister and leaders along the way - over its difference on climate and energy policy.
Morrison will hope his slow march to a net zero pledge - which might come at November's Glasgow climate conference - will appease those wanting at least some action.
He'll hope that his refusal to bump up Australia's 2030 target - withstanding pressure from world leaders like Joe Biden - will keep the conservatives at bay.
Morrison's political calculation is what defines the country's climate action ambition.
Australians have long known this.
Now the world does too.
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