The Bali Forecast, Low Expectations

Published on IPSnews, by Eric Lemus, December 11, 2007.

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, Dec 11 (IPS/IFEJ) – The multitudinous United Nations Conference on Climate Change under way since Dec. 3 on the tropical Indonesian island of Bali has oscillated between optimism and quiet reserve …

… The industrialised nations that are party to Kyoto are required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 to an average of five percent below 1990 levels. The debate under way now follows two paths: how to reach an agreement that includes the United States, which is responsible for more than 20 percent of emissions, and what kind of obligations should be taken on by the big developing countries China, India and Brazil.

Although Bali will not produce a signed treaty for the coming decades, many eyes are on the “road map” to come out of the discussions of the Ad Hoc Working Group (AWG) of the Kyoto Protocol, entrusted, among other things, with establishing a range of emissions reductions that the wealthy nations must adopt.

WWF and other environmental organisations hope the AWG will uphold an informal decision adopted earlier this year in Vienna: by 2020 the industrialised countries should reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels.

That would be the minimum threshold for attempting to prevent global average temperatures from rising two degrees Celsius more this century and unleashing natural disasters, warns the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

This was the year of the global climate. The Nobel Peace Prize went to the IPCC, whose latest reports determined beyond any doubt that human activities play a large role in the climate changes already occurring.

The “Bali road map” is the focus of work to be done at the next Conference of Parties, to meet in two years in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Yvo de Boer, executive director of the Secretariat of the Convention on Climate Change, urged the participants to act with responsibility.

De Boer stressed that the world is on a “catastrophic path”, and that the scientific community has sent policy-makers a clear message: climate change can be stopped, and by acting now we can prevent many of the disastrous impacts of global warming. (full text).

(This story is part of a series of features on sustainable development by IPS-Inter Press Service and IFEJ-International Federation of Environmental Journalists.)

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