Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bali: what was agreed - or not

World struggles to address "the defining challenge of our time"

189 nations left the dramatic Bali talks with a commitment from all, including the US - following its U-turn only seven years too late - to the principle of "deep cuts in global emissions", and to concluding negotiations by late 2009 in Copenhagen.

The complex multistranded dialogues will aim to culminate with concrete targets.

Governments and businesses have four years to prepare before the current targets expire.

The Bali talks communicated to the world the urgency and severity of the situation. The debate over how much responsibility rich nations must accept stumbled on United States' demands that developing countries such as China make tougher commitments.

Afterwards, a relieved UNFCCC head Yvo de Boer said the deal showed global commitment and that it broke down the divide between countries with Kyoto obligations and those without.

However, the WWF said that the agreement fell short and was "weak on substance". Greenpeace said it had been stripped of the reduction targets that science and humanity demands.

What was agreed - or not:

  • Adaptation: developing countries - those most affected - will manage an Adaptation Fund Board to help poor countries adapt to climate change. Cash will be available to Kyoto Protocol signees almost immediately from a 2% levy on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). UNFCCC estimates $40bn is needed but only $36m is now in the pot. $100m to $500m a year is required between 2008 and 2012.

  • Industry: A provision for "global sectoral agreements" aimed at industries such as the paper, metals and cement industries will require major players to agree on targets to cut emissions.

  • Technology transfer: a call for more financial resources and investment for developing countries on adaptation, mitigation and technology cooperation, especially for the most vulnerable.

  • Deforestation: A deal to tackle emissions from deforestation (REDD) could from 2013 allow poor but forested nations to turn conservation into billions of dollars worth of carbon credits, but only if rich nations take on more stringent reductions targets.

  • Carbon capture and storage: discussions postponed on this untested technology.

  • HFCs: failure to agree whether controversial destruction of newly produced powerful greenhouse gases hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) should qualify for carbon credits. Factories doing this have been accused of a giant scam.

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