Bali Day One Reports: A Rocky Start

Climate Feedback is reporting a rocky start to the Bali conference on Climate change--due in large measure to differences on the fundamental issue of what the conference is all about:

The road to building a Bali roadmap was looking increasingly rocky today, as the vastly differing expectations of what will emerge from the two weeks meeting of the 13th conference of parties (COP) to the UNFCCC became increasingly apparent.

One of the biggest bones of contention, of course, is whether the roadmap will include an agreement on the need for binding emissions targets from 2012, which signals the end of the second period of commitment of the Kyoto Protocol.

At the opening plenary talk on Monday, Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary said that “A marriage contract is not something to discuss on a first date”, eluding to the fact that the willingness of nations to co-operate must first be established here before they get down to the nitty gritty of asking parties to act on their promises.

But many feel this is a COP-out. Today, Matthias Duwe of Climate Action Network, a worldwide association of some 400 NGOs, retorted to De Boer’s comment, saying “These parties have been dating for over 15 years now, so we’re not exactly on a first date here”.

. . .

De Boer compared setting targets first to being asked to swim across the Atlantic without knowing whether you’d have a team, be allowed breaks, use rescue equipment etc. Basically, you’d hardly sign up for the task without knowing the details beforehand.

This approach, however, would be a flip on the order in which the Kyoto Protocol was agreed, which set targets first and then looked at how to achieve them. And that’s bound to ruffle feathers.

. . .

Among all the political wrangling and finger pointing, there has been some light hearted relief takes on the Bali talks, such as the giant thermometer erected by Greenpeace outside the conference venue and the Fossil of the Day Awards announced each evening by the Climate Action Network. The prize is in recognition of the efforts of countries that block progress at the conference.

Yet again, Saudi Arabia won first prize today for complaining that the protocol has an unfair focus on CO2 (and then called for prioritisation of CCS, which is concentrated on CO2). And secondly, for saying that article A "should not attach an economic element to the noble cause of fighting climate change"--when for years, they have been trying to undermine the fight against climate change specifically by campaigning by alleging adverse economic effects!

Read it all here.

The big news in the opening session is that Austrialia--which had until recently joined the U.S. in opposing the Kyoto treaty--used the opening session to urge the U.s. to join the rest of the world:

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd urged the United States to follow his country's lead and ratify the Kyoto Protocol, while rich and poor nations appeared divided Wednesday over what a future climate change pact should look like.

Rudd signed documents this week to formally adopt the accord that caps greenhouse gas emissions, reversing a decade of Australian resistance and leaving the United States as the only industrialized country to refuse to sign on.

"Our position vis-a-vis Kyoto is clear cut, and that is that all developed and developing countries need to be part of the global solution," the newly elected prime minister told the Southern Cross Broadcasting radio network in Australia.

"And therefore we do need to see the United States as a full ratification state," he said.

His comments put further pressure on the United States at the U.N. Climate Change conference in Bali, where nearly 190 nations hope to launch a two-year negotiating process that will result in a pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Failure to continue reducing emissions, experts warn, will almost certainly lead to catastrophic droughts and floods, and deaths linked to heat waves and disease.

The 175-nation Kyoto agreement of 1997 requires 36 industrialized nations to reduce their emissions of heat-trapping "greenhouse gases" — carbon dioxide and some other industrial, agricultural and transportation byproducts — by an average 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

The United States says it wants to be part of the negotiations on a follow-up accord, but refuses to endorse mandatory cuts in emissions favored by the European Union, choosing instead to focus on funding renewable energy projects and improving energy efficiency.

The Associated Press offer other setails as well:

While the conference is in its early days, differences already were emerging, mostly over what should go into the "Bali roadmap," which will lay out the subjects for discussions in the years to come.

Japan, for example, offered up a proposal that doesn't include targets, while the EU has come out with a detailed wish list that includes demands for industrialized countries to take the lead in approving mandatory cuts, strengthening the carbon market and boosting funding to help poor countries adapt.

Meanwhile, delegates and activists say poor countries led by the Group of 77, which represents 132 mainly developing countries and China, have demanded that rich countries speed up the process of providing them with technologies that would help reduce pollution or improve energy efficiency.

They also want funds to adapt to the impact of global warming.

Meena Raman, chairman of Friends of the Earth International, said marathon debates over the issue, some running late into the night, indicated that the West wasn't taking their concerns seriously.

"How on earth can you talk about targets if you don't want to engage on the scope, the depth and need of technology?" she asked reporters. "In the last two days, the sincerity and urgency that is needed and goodwill from the (West) is not happening."

Read it all here.


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