Saturday, 15 December 2007

Klaatu's second on the spot report from the Bali Climate conference...


As the Bali Climate Change talks drag into another (and probably final) day there is an air of sadness here that so much still remains to be done.

After 2 weeks and almost 1000 meetings between delegates from 187 countries there is a sense of disbelief that they could not reach consensus on the wording of a 3-page document to frame the terms of negotiations for a climate change deal after 2012 (when the Kyoto Protocol expires).
Yes, that's exactly what these talks were all about - simply to put together a 3-page Declaration outlining what should be done after the Kyoto Protocol.

So where does the blame lie?
Mostly, on the developed economies of the world (led by the US). For example - even now, in these dying hours of the talks, the US is fighting hard to stop the Declaration referring to the United Nations scientific advice. That advice states that "developed countries MUST cut emissions by 25pct - 40pct by the year 2020 to avoid global temperature rises that will cause severe climate change."
This advice is verified by climatologists worldwide, yet is only disputed by the US delegates at this conference.

Scientists have also warned that without deep cuts to emissions the world faced, WITHIN THE NEXT 50 YEARS, the possible loss of 30pct of animal and plant species, there could be as many as 50million climate refugees and 16 of the world 19 largest cities (including Jakarta and Shanghai) could be threatened by sea level rises.
Even if these numbers were halved - they are horrific figures!

The EU, for its part, has been equally inflexible from the other direction. They are insisting that ALL the scientific data be included in the final document.

Australia has been heavily criticised too, for its failure to stand with the EU and developing nations. Choosing a 'wait and see' approach while it awaits final advice from its own environmental experts (due mid-2008) before taking sides!

So, in these final hours, where do the major players stand:

AUSTRALIA: Agrees to reducing emissions by 60pct (based on year 2000 levels) by 2050. But they will not commit to 2020 targets until after their own scientific reports are concluded mid-2008.
They also will not sign the agreement on the 2020 figures for fears US and CANADA will walk away from the talks.

CHINA: Supports deep cuts by 2020 for developed nations while investing in solar energy reafforestation inside China. However, as a developING nation they are not bound by these agreements.

EUROPEAN UNION: Still arguing for binding 25pct-40pct emissions cuts by 2020 and transfer of clean technology to the developing world.

INDONESIA: Calls on developed countries to do more, will work to preserve its own rainforests, aims to reduce fossil fuels consumption from 52pct to 20pct by 2025.

UNITED STATES (with qualified support from CANADA and JAPAN): Will not support binding targets just for developed countries, insisting these commitments must be agreed by ALL countries. Does not condone the free transfer of technology to help developing countries control their carbon emissions.
(However, California has already set its own target of 80pct emission cuts by 2050!).

As one British delegate put it: "America is acting like business class passengers in a plane plummeting to the ground. What they don't realise is, we're all going to crash together."

My final (and MUCH shorter!) report before I fly out of Bali - in about 5 hours.

- Klaatu :))

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