Saturday, December 15, 2007

bali climate change agreement?

So, it seems that delegates at the UN summit in Bali have agreed a deal on curbing climate change.
The intention had been to set negotiations in train that will eventually lead to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Its first targets for reducing emissions expire in 2012. EU negotiators wanted this "Bali roadmap" to contain a commitment that industrialised nations would cut their emissions by 25-40% compared to 1990 levels by 2020.
EU negotiators had thrashed out a compromise text with developing countries, including China, but the US had signaled that it would reject the compromise – a statement that drew boos from delegates in the conference hall – because they complained that the language on reducing emissions was too strong and would commit them to measures that could retard their economic development!
Eventually, the US grudgingly accepted the proposals. Somewhat pathetically, Paula Dobriansky (Head of the US delegation) said “I think we have come a long way here…. In this, the US is very committed to this effort and just wants to really ensure we all act together”. Oh good, so that’s ok then!!
However, depressingly (as far as I can tell at this stage), the US delegation got its way and the compromise agreement accepts that industrialized countries would not set firm emissions targets – to the utter dismay of most campaigners.
You might recall that George Bush infuriated his critics by professing world leadership on climate change at his meeting of the top 16 world economies at the end of September - while offering no new substantive policy and implicitly rejecting binding emissions controls.
I think Chris Miller of Greenpeace got it right: “The Bush administration is well out of step with the American population and, increasingly, out of step with US business”.
No doubt, we’ll get a queue of politicians lining up to tell us how wonderful this agreement is (and I accept that some agreement is better than none at all), but I’m left feeling depressed and desperately disappointed by the whole business and that this latest deal is just yet another fudge. At a time when the world cannot afford to delay, it seems that politicians have merely postponed REAL decisions on climate change for another two years when there will be another conference (in Denmark) to agree the final wording to replace the Kyoto Protocol in 2012!


Gareth Rae said...

Maybe I'm more cynical than you are, but I no longer believe that summits produce any more than hot air (and in this case, literally as well as metaphorically), which doesn't mean that I am about to stop campaigning for climate change any more than I have stopped putting pressure on politicians to eradicate poverty or trade fairly. However, the answer to the current climate crisis does lie at least in part in our hands. If we resolve to cut our own carbon consumption and persuade our family, friends, church, workplace etc to do likewise then we can make a difference.

I had hoped to coordinate a CRAG meeting before Christmas but this is now unlikely. It will have to be held over to the New Year, which may be more appropriate, with New Year Resolutions and the like.

bigdaddystevieB said...

No, I’m afraid I do share your cynicism!
I agree that we CAN make a difference by cutting our own carbon consumption and persuading others. My fear is that, by fudging things at Bali, pressure will be taken off governments in the US, China, Canada, Japan and the like. My HOPE is that green-minded businesses and individuals within these countries will have heard the world-wide condemnation of their respective politicians and be moved to take stronger actions themselves.