UN Backs Down on Strict Guidelines as Leaders Reach Tentative Agreement
As much as we'd like to admit that we were surprised by the outcome, we can't say that we didn't already see the writing on the wall from a mile away. Yes, conceding that setting specific targets for emissions reductions may have been too "ambitious" (sad, but true), Ban Ki-moon, the UN's Secretary General, announced that the Bali participants were ready to reach a formal agreement after the U.S. agreed to a compromise.
That compromise? Agreeing to move forward with formal negotiations to establish a new climate change accord, albeit not under the current Kyoto framework. The U.S., along with Canada, Australia and Japan, had balked at an agreement that would've established strict guidelines - cutting emissions produced by developed countries by up to two-fifths within the next 13 years. U.S. envoys stated their opposition to any treaty that included references to specific numerical goals, also insisting that developing countries such as India and China also needed to slash their emissions. This demand essentially torpedoed any hopes the participants had of creating a strong, unified "road map" on climate change.
Indeed, both environmentalists and ministers alike are concerned that the omission of specific targets will result in a toothless, vague agenda - another impediment to the urgent action needed to begin seriously countering the dangers of global warming. As Stephanie Tunmore, a Greenpeace campaigner put it: "We may end up at the end of this week with a pie which has no meat in it, and that would be disastrous. The science is telling us that we don't have time for this."
While it's certainly true that developing nations need to do their part to cut their emissions, using this as an excuse to reject even a mildly ambitious plan is patently ridiculous and shameful. Here's hoping (without much hope) that we won't have to wait another 2 years before we see some real action on this front...
Via ::Times Online: US rejects climate guidelines at Bali conference (newspaper), ::FT: Bali leaders move towards agreement (newspaper)