Success in Bali


As of this writing, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in Bali have not yet produced a final agreement. That’s ok. The tectonic shift in international climate politics has already occurred.
It was clear almost from the beginning of the event that the U.S. was engaged in “hard obstruction,” attempting not only to avoid commitments for itself but actively working to block other countries from setting further targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction. That’s been the policy in place for the last seven years.
What has changed is the European position. In past years, Europeans have been content to state their preference for a faster pace toward a new set of emissions targets and then timidly give up 90 per cent of their negotiating position to bring the U.S. on board. The diplomats would then typically attempt to downplay any major rift and present a far more united front than really exists.
This year is different. When the Americans flatly rejected any mention of a new set of targets, the EU promised to boycott the U.S.-hosted major emitters climate summit, which is at best a complement and at worst a distraction to the UNFCCC process.
As a result, it looks likely that the U.S. may compromise. But even if no compromise is reached or targets agreed to, this is a major step forward. Environmental and civil society groups have long been pushing for the Europeans to move forward with an ambitious agenda that the U.S. may eventually catch up to. It seems at last that if the U.S. will not come along, Europe is willing to make progress anyway. By 2009, we should all be on the same page.
I’ve heard that there has also been significant progress on the adaptation and deforestation angles in Bali, but I have yet to read through the details of either. Plus, I always like it when youth find their voice on this issue. Any way you slice it, this conference will be seen as a major step forward.
— Scott Paul
Update: A deal has been brokered in a small group that a larger plenary will consider in a few hours. It calls for a “two-track” process, dealing with both Kyoto and the larger UNFCCC, that will culminate in a new deal to be finalized in Copenhagen in 2009. Unclear as yet whether it includes any mention of concrete targets. UN Dispatch, It’s Getting Hot in Here, and Bali Buzz are following closely.


4 comments on “Success in Bali

  1. mp says:

    thank you for the coverage of this event. I hope this blog & Scott Paul continue to cover the politics of climate related negotiations. What I really want to hear about is how Bush’s limited tenure effected the negotiating strategies of all sides. Thanks again, and yes, lets hope that in 2009 all sides will be more aligned in future negotiations.


  2. Kathleen says:

    Indigenous Peoples have very ancient wisdom on the existence of rare species and the uses of many plants, close to esxtinction. They also have the ability to observe nature and recognize signs of problems.
    Indigenous Peoples are an endangered species, too. As we pave more and more of our planet, their way of life is vanishing.
    Hopi say the rest of mankind will follow in their footsteps, if we don’t pause to consider maintaining a balance between man and nature. This was their reason for going to the UN.
    For those interested in their official message to the UN, you can obtain a copy from:
    UN Economic and Social Council
    Commission for Human Rights
    SubCommission on Prevention of Discrimination
    and Protection of Minorities
    Fortieth Session
    Agenda Item 12
    26 August 1988
    UN/Geneva. Switzerland.


  3. Scott Paul says:

    I don’t know if UNPFII is participating formally, but the COP/MOPs always have substantial representation from indigenous groups. Agreed that they have a unique perspective as stakeholders that ought to be taken into account.


  4. Kathleen says:

    Scott… do you know if the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues(UNPFII) is participating in this conference? I think the indigenous perspective on climate change should be considered.


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