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Bali talks


Bali talks

The UN secretary general and governments yesterday hailed a deal to start negotiations to adopt a new climate pact, but environmental groups said the agreement lacked teeth.

The deal binds the United States and China to greenhouse gas goals for the first time and a two-year agenda aims to lead to the adoption in Copenhagen in 2009 of a tougher, wider pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.

“This is the defining moment for me and my mandate as secretary general,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon said after the meeting in Bali.

“All the 188 countries have recognised that this is the defining agenda for all humanity, for all planet Earth.”

Environmental groups said the agreement lacked substance after the European Union abandoned wording urging rich countries to step up the fight against climate change.

Under US pressure, and to help get horse-trading started, the deal dodged the goal of halving emissions by 2050 or of embracing a commitment by industrialised economies to slash their emissions by 2020.

But delegates gave the US an ovation after the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter abruptly dropped last-minute opposition to Indian demands to soften developing nation commitments to a new pact.

“We now have one of the broadest negotiating agendas ever on climate change,” said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Developing nations welcomed the deal.

“Here in Bali we reached a consensus, global consensus for all countries,” said Hassan Wirayuda, Indonesia’s foreign minister.

“No single country was excluded, in a very inclusive process … we hope it will provide not only a good basis but also the momentum in the coming years.”

Canada backed the US view that developing countries had not offered enough. “One hundred and ninety countries are represented here; 38 of them agreed to take on national binding targets today, we’ve just got to work on some of the other 150,” John Baird, Canada’s environment minister, said.

The EU said it was satisfied with the deal, seeing as key the inclusion of Kyoto outsider, the United States.

“It was exactly what we wanted, we are indeed very pleased,” said the EU chief negotiator, Humberto Rosa.

The EU climbdown on targets was the chief disappointment of environmentalists, who had wanted goals matching what scientists say is most needed to limit rising temperatures.

“The Bush administration has unscrupulously taken a monkey wrench to the level of action on climate change that the science demands,” said Gerd Leipold, director of Greenpeace International.

David Doniger, climate policy director at the US Natural Resources Defence Council, said he was astounded at how the US behaved.

“They were completely isolated and it just shows how much the world wants a new face from the US on global warming.”

Elliot Diringer, director of international strategies at the US environmental group, the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change, said the Bali deal was “the best possible under the circumstances”.

But, he cautioned: “We shouldn’t fool ourselves about how extraordinarily hard it’s going to be to meet that goal.”

Additional reporting by Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse

Key points

  • Greenhouse gas emissions
    It recognises that “deep cuts” in global emissions will be required. It references scientific reports that suggest a range of cuts between 25 per cent and 40 per cent by 2020, but prescribes no such targets itself.
  • Deadline
    Negotiations for the next climate accord should last for two years and conclude in 2009 in order to allow enough time to implement it at the end of 2012. Four major climate meetings will take place next year.
  • Rich and poor
    Negotiators should consider binding reductions of emissions by industrialised countries. Developing nations should consider controlling the growth of their emissions. Richer countries should work to transfer climate-friendly technology to poorer nations.
  • Adjusting to climate change
    Negotiators should look at supporting urgent steps to help poorer countries adapt to inevitable effects of global warming, such as building sea walls to guard against rising oceans.
  • Deforestation
    Negotiators should consider incentives for reducing deforestation in developing countries, many of which want compensation for preserving their forest “sinks”.

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