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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”.

Clear The Air 10th Anniversary Party

The charity volunteer organization, Clear the Air, now boosting a membership of 500, drew a large turn out for the occasion, including new members and representatives of other environmental organizations, such as Clean Air Action Group, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Green-Sense and the Environment Protection Department.

The purpose of the gathering went beyond the anniversary celebration;  it was also an opportunity to present the evolution of the group from its inception until the present,  and define directions for the years ahead.  In addition, the aim was to attract new people who would be interested in getting involved in committees that require more hands, such as communication, campaigning, energy, town-planning and diesel engines.

Mr Tony Lee of the EPD presented the consultation paper on the proposal to ban idling engines and asked for support to have this bill passed.

Ms Catherine Touzard talked about her book, “Going Green in Hong Kong,” a comprehensive guide to everyday life and how we can all actively participate in affecting the environment.

The Lucky Draw was a stunning light-weight, foldable, urban bicycle that was graciously sponsored by GUM Ltd and happily won by Cathy Carroll.

The Chair, Christian Masset, in a short talk, highlighted the evolution of the group, the constant need to tackle pollution at the source while promoting renewable energies and emission-less vehicles.

In regard to the latter, a short video was shown on the air car, a zero-emission vehicle designed by MDI and soon to be produced in India.

Hong Kong Should Take Lead Against Global Warming

Greenpeace Survey reveals business demand for Government leadership against global warming

“A Greenpeace survey indicates that almost all local and overseas chambers of commerce interviewed agree that the HKSAR Administration should take the lead against global warming. The photo (not available) shows Wolfgang Ehmann, Executive Director of German Industry and Commerce Hong Kong and Vice Chairwoman of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce Eva Iding joining Greenpeace’s survey release.”

Hong Kong SAR, China — A Greenpeace survey indicates concern from both local and overseas chambers of commerce that natural disasters triggered by global warming would be detrimental to investment in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta region. Almost all respondents agree that the SAR Administration should take the lead against global warming. Greenpeace urges the SAR Administration for greenhouse gas emissions targets as well as a comprehensive strategy to tackle the warming crisis.

Thirteen local and overseas chambers of commerce answered a Greenpeace questionnaire in October, including the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce, the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, the Singapore Chamber of Commerce (Hong Kong), the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, on business sector’s view towards global warming. All respondents, representing over 9,000 enterprises in Hong Kong, agree that businesses in Hong Kong should concern the crisis as climate change impacts (e.g. extreme weathers, sea level rise) may threaten business operation and production facilities in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta.

12 respondents said government leadership is crucial in resolving the warming problem. 6 out of all said the government is not doing sufficient in combating climate change. Most believe the SAR Administration should assess the economic, social and environmental impacts of climate change to Hong Kong and establish thorough policy and targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Most chambers of commerce gave positive response to taking actions against climate change. 10 of them said the Hong Kong business sector should be responsible for helping to alleviate the problem by promoting environmentally-friendly products, improving energy efficiency and educating customers through awareness campaign. A number of them indicated educational programs were held to equip members with relevant knowledge of the issue.

“The survey reveals concerns of the business sector to the warming crisis and agrees that the SAR Administration should lead the battle”, said Frances Yeung, Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner. “Donald Tsang, the Chief Executive, should never pursue an ‘ostrich’ policy but to lead Hong Kong to fight global warming.”

Wolfgang Ehmann, Executive Director of German Industry and Commerce Hong Kong, said the Hong Kong government must legislate in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions and voluntary measures alone were not sufficient enough.

Vice Chairwoman of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce Eva Iding echoed that government leadership was necessary in fighting climate change. She also advised that businesses should pay attention to risk management as a result of climate change.

Donald Tsang proposed only 3 measures in his policy address to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which are too trivial to make an impact and reflects his lack of sincerity to deal with the problem. Greenpeace urges the SAR Administration together with the Guangdong provincial government, to assess impacts of global warming to economies of Hong Kong and the PRD region. The government should also formulate mitigation measures accordingly to answer worries of the business sector. What’s more important, the government should set emissions reduction targets, and to devise a comprehensive climate strategy. It is also necessary for the administration to regulate emissions from the power plants, the largest contributor of CO2 pollution.