Climate Feedback

Eyes of the world on Bali

Bali, Indonesia-

The long-awaited United Nations Conference on Climate Change kicked off this morning on the idyllic island of Bali, where some 10,000 delegates from 187 nations will spend the next two weeks discussing how to reach an international agreement on climate change to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.

International governments are now feeling the pressure for urgent action on climate change as the world watches in hope of a Bali breakthrough. At the opening address of the conference, Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesia’s environment minister and newly appointed president of the thirteenth session of the conference of parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP13) said “We now have a better understanding of the complexity of the climate problem. What we need is political will. I hope that Bali can deliver the breakthrough the world is waiting for”.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, described the mood as “very upbeat and encouraging”. He highlighted Pakistan’s statement on behalf of the G77 member states and China indicating their willingness to engage in international dialogue on climate change.

Up until now, failure of two of the world’s largest industrialised nations, the US and Australia, to ratify the Kyoto Protocol has been seen by many as a major obstacle to its success. And buy-in from both nations is believed to be crucial to agreeing a workable ‘son of Kyoto’.

One day into the talks…and half of that goal has already been achieved. Newly elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who defeated conservative leader John Howard nine days ago, today pledged to ratify Kyoto just hours after being sworn in. Rudd also announced his intention to attend the talks in Bali next week.

De Boer described the response from delegates to the news as “an emotional and spontaneous reaction to a very significant decision on the part of the Australian government” . He said that “the long applause reflected people’s appreciation for Australia to engage even more strongly internationally on climate change”.

But achieving the other half is likely to prove much more difficult. The shift in Australia’s stance will undoubtedly leave the US feeling out in the cold in Bali, but not enough to pressurise the Bush administration to change its stance on ratifying Kyoto.

Responding to the announcement, Harlan Watson, US Senior Climate Negotiator and Special Representative, said today in Bali that it was “up to each individual nation how to move forward” and that the US “respected the decisions of other nations and likewise expected them to respect their decision”.

Watson wouldn’t comment on what the US may be willing to agree to, but said that that it “wants a regime that is both environmentally friendly and economically viable” and that any agreement must “include all major emitters and developed and developing nations”.

Judging from various statements made at the plenary session this morning, it seems that many expect the Bali conference to lead to a very general rather than detailed roadmap on how to proceed on climate change over the next two years. While this may be the only way to get the US on board, it hardly seems like the urgent international response that it being called for. While the EU is very strongly in favour of binding international commitments that can be monitored, President Bush has made it clear that he favours a voluntary approach to cutting greenhouse gases.

But some believe that whatever the US says in Bali will be largely irrelevant, given the forthcoming presidential elections next November.

More delegates are expected to arrive in Bali next week, when any agreements will be finalised, including former US vice –president and Nobel laureate Al Gore and Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the meantime, I’ll be keeping you updated with daily posts direct from the talks in Bali here on Climate Feedback.

Olive Heffernan

Comments

  1. Report this comment

    Nagraj Adve said:

    With some of the biggest emitters – US, China, and India – not covered by any treaty – any international convention can have only partial gains until those three come on board. The recent shift in Australia’s intended policy is welcome but Kyoto is too little a cut, 5.2%. Industrialized countries need to be doing a lot more, very fast. Contrary to all the flowery talk, the urgency is not reflected in progress as yet.

    Nagraj Adve

  2. Report this comment

    Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A. said:

    From my perspective, we have a remarkably large and loud number of people, many of them are our leaders, who are denialists and naysayers with regard to the science of global warming. They have been doing what they are doing now during much of my adult life. What they are saying and doing, I suppose, is derived from one form or another of self-interested-thinking. At least one consequence of their widely shared and consensually validated way of viewing the world could lead the human community into danger. Let me say more now about what I mean.

    Self-interested-thinking is potentially dangerous because it serves to hide the truth of global warming, among other things, as well as “poison the well” of public discourse regarding climate change.

    Too many of our politicians, economists, big-business benefactors and the talking heads in the mass media are all “whistling the same tune.” What is even worse is the way they entice many appointees and surrogates to whistle that same tune, too. After all, who can resist offerings of great wealth, power and privileges that accrue to those who go along with one’s self-interests, with whatsoever is political convenient, economically expedient, religiously tolerated and socially agreeable. In the face of such temptation, we can readily understand why the scientific gains of the IPCC would be everywhere, in every way, rejected by the denialists and naysayers. The science from the IPCC could forcefully impede their acquisition of more wealth, more power and more privileges.

    Not only are too many leaders trying to hide or otherwise deny the good scientific evidence of human-driven climate change, they are also actively involved in poisoning the well of public discourse by strategically disseminating disinformation. And for what? Evermore power, wealth and privileges for themselves and their minions so they can carefreely play out the “conspicuous consumption fantasies” of their “Me Generation” by living large and unsustainably, come what may, having forsaken the future of their children and forgotten how human life depends upon Earth’s limited resources and frangible ecosystem services for its very existence.

    It seems to me that the human community has reached a crossroads in Bali, Indonesia, December 2007: EITHER we will choose to “stay the current course” of endless economic growth, ever increasing conspicuous per capita consumption and skyrocketing human population numbers OR we will find other ways to go forward. If these distinctly human overproduction, over-consumption and overpopulation activities we see overspreading the surface of Earth are unsustainable, then I am going to suppose we will insist upon some changes in our behavioral repertoire so that sustainable ways of living in the world are proposed by policymakers and adopted by our leaders.

    With thanks to all Bali participants,

    Steve

    Steven Earl Salmony

    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population

    http://sustainabilitysoutheast.org/

  3. Report this comment

    Ed Hamilton said:

    This will work, please read carefully!

    Compelling idea to “clean public attitudes toward action re. climate change”

    Because this truth shows asset bubbles so well, real

    (inflation-corrected) asset price histories, e.g.

    http://homepage.mac.com/ttsmyf/RD_RJShomes_PSav.html

    (and please don’t miss the last chart therein)

    are kept well-away from the public’s attention!

    And then the people are counting air in asset prices

    as national wealth!

    And such counting/worrying about this air MUST get in

    the way of rational “public attitudes toward action

    re. climate change”!

    So the idea is: get real asset price histories in the

    public’s face (ongoingly), thus cleaning minds (by ca.

    1.3 GDP, see below), and expect increased rationality

    of “public attitudes toward action re. climate change”.

    The noted ca. 1.3 GDP is my calc., maybe a year ago,

    of the above-historical-trends pricings of U.S. homes

    + stocks. This makes for a LOT of representative

    democracy effects, I’ll bet!

    Sincerely,

    Ed Hamilton

    for credibility only:

    Ph.D., Chemistry, Caltech

    belong to Mensa

  4. Report this comment

    Stringer said:

    The control of temperature of the earth is totally dominated by atmospheric turbidity which both blocks and reflects radiation.

    . This turbidity is for the most part water in the condensed state.

    Rise in day temperature on land depends very largely on the duration and intensity of cloud cover but is moderated by wind.

    Similarly the amount of overnight cooling is dominated by the duration and extent of cloud of various forms.

    We should be examining factors which could affect the extent of cloud both over ocean and land.

    The industrial soot from China is said to reach the USA and therefore must be causing a modification of turbidity and thereby surface temperature of the Pacific.

    This will affect the amount of evaporation.

    Also the soot and sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide from jets at 35000 feet should be considered in relation to rainfall patterns.

    The current science of the climate must take everything into account or it is NOT good science

  5. Report this comment

    Stringer said:

    Steven Earl Salmony is incorrect to attribute the skeptics on the effect of increased carbon dioxide on climate temperature as being skeptics out of self interest.

    At 17 degrees south in Queensland this year minus fifteen degrees celcius was recorded at 30 miles from the coast.

    This was due to the fact that the atmosphere was so dry that no condensation in the atmosphere occurred during the night.

    The current atmospheric content of carbon dioxide was not enough to prevent this degree of frost.

    I declare that reflection by condensed matter in the atmosphere totally dominates the effect of absorbtion and re-radiation by the so called greenhouse gases.

    Carbon dioxide is currently referred to by many as pollution.

    We should know that the human body consists of 61 percent oxygen and 23 percent carbon by weight and that if carbon dioxide was absent from the atmosphere human and all other life would be absent from the planet

  6. Report this comment

    Steven Earl Salmony said:

    The astonishing failures to act responsibly by too many leaders at the Bali Conference present us the most deplorable situation imaginable. The implications of inaction for the future of our children are potentially profound. How on Earth can the leaders in my not-so-great generation of elders consciously mortgage as well as threaten the very future of coming generations by remaining intransigent in the face of ominously looming, human-induced global challenges, the ones already visible on the far horizon?

    Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A.

    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population

    http://sustainabilitysoutheast.org/

  7. Report this comment

    Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A. said:

    Three humble proposals……………………

    Hello to All,

    Thanks for your contributions to these discussions and for the uncommonly constructive way in which you participate.

    Perhaps you will be so kind and consider three following proposals.

    The first proposal is an idea that has been deeply developed by Dr. Jack Alpert of the Stanford Knowledge Integration Laboratory (SKIL), .

    According to his calculations, if we agreed, as one family of humanity, to begin now to implement VOLUNTARILY a “One Child Per Family” policy, it would be possible in the coming 50 years to rapidly decrease absolute global human population numbers to 1.5 billion rather than have human numbers worldwide grow to a fully anticipated 9.2 billion people by 2050 (UN Population Division projections). Although there is much more to say about this proposal, I am going to immediately pass on to the matter of modifying the global economy: the second proposal.

    There are remarkably well-developed ideas by Aubrey Meyer of the Global Commons Institute in England regarding a plan for the “contraction and convergence” of the global economy, as a way of protecting the Earth from the reckless and relentless expansion of economic globalization that could soon become patently unsustainable on a relatively small planet with Earth’s limited resources.

    It goes without saying that the Earth does not possess enough resources to sustain the human species, if every human being on the planet consumes resources as voraciously as people in the ‘developed’ world do now. My third proposal calls for a plan to be formulated that redistributes resources and caps excessive per-capita over-consumption.

    I suppose what I am trying to point out is this: current per human consumption in the ‘developed’ world, unbridled increase of human industrial/production capabilities in the ‘developing’ world, and skyrocketing human numbers in the ‘undeveloped’ world cannot be sustained much longer by the limited natural resources and frangible ecosystem services of Earth.

    As many have made clear to us elsewhere, there is plenty of blame to go around for the distinctly human-forced predicament in which humanity finds itself in these early years of Century XXI. At least to me, it appears that all of us in the human community are implicated in this situation, even though no one among us is responsible for our circumstances. Collective thought and action is anticipated; more sensibly sharing resources and cooperating with one another as a family of humanity is in the offing, I suppose.

    With warm regards,

    Steve

    Steven Earl Salmony

    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001

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