Bali meet defers emission cut issue

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | Updated: Dec 16 2007, 00:42am hrs
The world leaders agreed to negotiate a new pact by 2009 for reducing the impact of global warming. The 13th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change which ended in Bali in Indonesia on Saturday failed to quantify the emission cuts needed to reduce the impact of global warming due to strong opposition by US joined by Canada and Japan.

The new climate pact would replace the Kyoto Protocol which is likely to expire by 2012. Negotiations are expected to begin in April 2008 to finalise the agenda for the Copanhagen meeting in 2009.

Instead of agreeing to a moderate proposal put forth by the European Union calling for emission cut by 25% to 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, the US tried to rope in emerging economies like India and China to commit emission cuts. Developing countries including India and the G-77 support the EU proposal. The differences was so intense that it could not be resolve by late evening on Friday and the conference ran into an extra day on Saturday, resulting in a dramatic finish.

The developing countries also had the support of Australia after the recent change of the government in that country. But Canada joined US lobby after Australia quit its fold.

The world leaders resolved to have a new climate treaty by 2009, after US backed down in a battle over wording supported by developing nations and EU. The US stand had drawn loud boos and sharp floor rebukes - "If you are not willing to lead, then get out of the way!" one delegate demanded - before Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky reversed her position, allowing the adoption of the so-called 'Bali Roadmap'.

The UN climate chief Yvo de Boor termed it as 'a real breakthrough'.

The developing nations urged that technological help from rich nations and other issues needed greater recognition in the document. In an apparent resolution, India and others suggested minor adjustments to the text, backed by the EU, that encouraged monitoring of technological transfer to make sure rich countries were meeting that need. But the United States objected, calling for further talks, and only relented when, in an uproar, delegates by turns criticized and pleaded with Dobriansky to reverse course.

The Bali conference, however, adopted a resolution on adaptation fund to help to help poor nations to cope with damage from climate change impact like droughts, extreme weather conditions or rising seas. The Adaptation Fund now comprises only about

$36 million but might rise to $1-$5 billion a year by 2030 if investments in green technology in developing nations surges. The fund distinguished the responsibilities of the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank. The fund would have a 16-member board largely from developing countries and would stat operating from 2008.

Another area where the conference resolved was on preservation of tropical forests. A pay-and-preserve scheme known as reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries (REDD) aims to allow poorer nations from 2013 to sell carbon offsets to rich countries in return for not burning their tropical forests. It recognized the urgent need to take further action to cut carbon and methane emissions from tropical forests. The draft decision encourages parties to undertake pilot projects to address the main causes of deforestation.

The Bali conference postponed until next year any consideration of a plan to fund an untested technology which captures and buries the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, emitted from power plants that burn fossil fuels. Some countries want capture and storage to qualify for carbon offsets for slowing global warming. It also failed to agree whether or not to allow companies to sell carbon offsets from destroying new production of powerful greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Benefiting factories have been the biggest winners under a UN scheme to reward companies which cut greenhouse gas emissions.