Bali Launches Climate Negotiations, Weak on Substance

Bali, INDONESIA – Political leaders meeting in Bali for the UN’s Climate Change Summit hammered out a deal which launches formal negotiations with a 2009 end date, but the deal falls short in its ambition, says World Wildlife Fund.

Governments gathered in Bali for the most important climate talks in a decade to put on track a future treaty that would cut developed countries’ emissions 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The findings of the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year, shows clearly that to keep the world below 2°C warming compared with pre-industrial times, global emissions need to peak and decline before 2020.

During an emotional showdown in the final hours of the 15-day meeting, the US delegation, under intense public pressure, decided to join in the global talks. The price of US participation, however, was a deal weak on substance.

“The US administration was asked to get out of the way, and in the end they bowed to pressure,” says Hans Verolme, Director of WWF’s Global Climate Change Program.“The Bali Roadmap leaves a seat at the table for the next US president to make a real contribution to the global fight to stop dangerous climate change.”

Over the next two years, industrialized countries need to agree to deep emission cuts, and to leverage new funding and support for technology transfer, finance and adaptation. The EU and leading developing countries such as Brazil, China and South Africa will have to propose a workplan for this two-year negotiation marathon. These talks will have to make up for Bali’s shortcomings.

On some of the practical building blocks of a future climate change regime, good progress has been made:  technology transfer has been given appropriate attention, including technologies for mitigation and adaptation as well as financial incentives. The Adaptation Fund has finally been implemented but additional financing and technical support for the poorest countries will have to be created.

The commitment to address tropical deforestation, also known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), is another building block in the Bali Roadmap. Governments have recognized that 20 percent of emissions are from forest loss, and they now have two years to nail down the rules on how REDD will be implemented.

"A strong, well-funded REDD mechanism will enable tropical forest countries to develop their economies without destroying their forests. In doing so, they will make a real contribution to mitigating global climate change," says Rodney Taylor, Director of WWF’s Global Forest Program. "The mechanism must include safeguards to ensure that REDD projects benefit forest-dependent people and conserve biodiversity."

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