Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Your Bali Update

I know you really do want me to keep you up-to-date on what’s happening in the global warming talks in Bali so you can help your states prepare for the fiscal impacts of the resulting (in)actions. Here’s what the UN Gen Sec and others had to say at its opening:

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has opened high-level talks at the climate change conference in Bali with a call to action.

He said that if no action were taken, the world would face impacts such as drought, famine and rising sea levels.

Delegates are hoping to agree a "Bali roadmap" leading to further cuts in greenhouse gas emissions when the Kyoto Protocol targets expire in 2012.

The US and Canada are among countries opposed to further binding targets.

The UN itself wants developed countries to commit to cuts of 25-40% from 1990 levels by 2020. . . .

"We gather because the time for equivocation is over," said Mr Ban.

"Climate change is the defining challenge of our age. The science is clear; climate change is happening, the impact is real. The time to act is now."

The newly-elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd handed documents to Mr Ban confirming his government's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

"The community of nations must reach agreement," he told delegates.

"There is no plan B; there is no other planet any of us can escape to."

And then, of course, there’s US.

While acknowledging the science, the US argues for voluntary agreements rather than a global system of binding cuts, and argues that the text coming from the Bali conference should not contain numerical targets.

"We want to launch a process that is open and does not predetermine or preclude options," Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky told reporters.

Germany's Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel issued a sharp rebuke to the US position.
"I do not need a paper from Bali in which we only say 'OK, we'll meet again next year again', he said.

"How can we find a roadmap without having a target, without having a goal?"

Makes you proud, doesn’t it? Just think of the tales you’ll be able to tell your grandchildren. Even manages to make the “paralysis by analysis” that we’re doing in corr sent look halfway sensible.

[The actual news from that conference is that some scientists think we’ve hit the tipping point for Arctic ice melt, which could tip a lot of other points down the way in coming years. Oh, hum. But at least this presidential candidate does have the ultimate solution:

"And we ought to declare that we will be free of energy consumption in this country within a decade, bold as that is."
Mike Huckabee, Republican presidential candidate, 10 Dec. 2007 (h/t Gristmill)]

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