Bali, Indonesia –
There was a chance today for journalists to hear from Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UNFCCC, at a lunchtime press conference usually given by the (often batik-shirted) Yvo de Boer. This conference has so far been a useful purified daily dose of what’s been going on behind closed doors in the Bali meetings.
But today’s was a bit of a disappointment. Although the beginning of Ban Ki-moon’s speech was suitably rousing – “Today we are at a crossroads – one path leading towards a comprehensive new climate agreement and the other towards a betrayal of our planet and our children” – from this point on it felt as if (to bleed the analogy dry) he got a bit lost.
The questions he faced were fairly predictable – but the answers frustrating and woolly. When asked about his view on emissions targets for particular countries, he replied: “There are differences of opinion between developed and developing countries, and even among these groups”.
In contrast, I got the distinct impression that was no difference of opinion among many of the journalists in attendance. Many thought it was all a bit watered-down. That view was epitomised by one question asked of him at the end: if all countries have already agreed to formal negotiations, and the purpose of this meeting isn’t to go any further and define targets and talk numbers, have we achieved what we wanted? Shall we all just go home?
“We need to expedite our process of negotiation”, he said halfway through – but I couldn’t help feeling that if the high-level negotiations going on this week are proceeding at the same swimming-through-treacle pace as this press conference, he would have a hard time expediting anything.