Bali Climate Change Meet: Better than expected, less than needed

Bali Climate Change Meet: Better than expected, less than needed

Not much was expected of the UN Climate Change Conference that took place in Bali, Indonesia, since developed and developing nations have been at loggerheads over a range of interrelated issues since the earlier Kyoto Conference: setting hard targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, funding afforestation efforts in the developing world, deciding who should cut back more or pay more for damage repair , historical offenders in the developed world or newly emerging villains in the developing and so on. Besides, the Bali meet was only going to consider the idea of negotiating further on these issues.

But there were some signs of change. For one thing, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had recently set the stage by coming out with a fairly strong report on the basic fact of climate change, so the world could get beyond asking a twenty year old question , whether it was really happening at all. At the conference itself, the European Union attempted to push for mandatory cuts of 20-40% by developed countries, though this was ultimately shot down by the US. A more significant gain was Australia's choosing to use the timing of the conference to declare that it would finally give up its opposition to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, leaving America as the only major industrialized nation that is yet to do so. Though this may not have had a direct bearing on the conference, it sent a definite signal. Ultimately, however, with no hard agreements inked, the substantial change was really more in the dynamics of interaction, with America being isolated by an increasingly vocal international gathering in a way that has not perhaps happened earlier on such matters. It was certainly the first time Papua New Guinea told America to step aside if it was not prepared to take the lead! So who won? Well, probably not the Earth, but a lot of people seemed to have scored, going by the reportage: Here's the Times of India: "After two weeks of diplomatic dogfights at Bali, India, led by Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, clinched an almost impossible deal at the UN conference on climate change. It successfully defended itself against imposition of binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And, just as significantly, it isolated an obstinate US, cornered other rich countries - such as the EU member states - and made them accept the responsibility of funding and supporting transfer of clean technologies to developing countries." Here, on the other hand, is NDTV's reportage of what an American Enterprise Institute spokesperson had to say: ''I would say the US actually carried the day in terms of getting what it really, what its hard lines were. They did not want hard targets. They didn't get them. They did not want a commitment to a follow on or to tighten up Kyoto, and they avoided that, mostly. There's a little indication of language that says this'll continue. So they got what they wanted that way,'' said Ken Green, American Enterprise Institute.

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