The same day that the University of East Anglia reports that 2007, despite the cooling effects of La Nina, has been the seventh warmest year on record, word came from the U.N. Climate Conference in Bali that the talks were in danger of breaking down:
European leaders and environmental campaigners reacted angrily yesterday after the United States rejected guidelines for reducing greenhouse gas emissions intended to check global warming.This has lead to a proposal for a compromise deal. If they cannot come to agreement, participants have threatened to to bypass next month's Bush Administration's climate meetings set for Hawaii.
The proposal, supported by the members of the European Union as well as Brazil, would have set out in writing an ambition to cut greenhouse gases produced by industrialised countries by up to two fifths in the next 13 years.
The row has undermined the hopes of environmentalists for a strong and detailed statement of agreement among the 190 governments attending the United Nations climate change conference on the Indonesian island of Bali. Link.
Al Gore, speaking before the gathered representatives, acknowledged this:
"My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali. We all know that. But my country is not the only one that can take steps to insure that we move forward from Bali with progress and with hope. "
From Jennifer Morgan of the Climate Action Network (who did not mince words): "There is a wrecking crew here in Bali, led by the Bush Administration and its minions. Those minions continue to be the governments of Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia and others..."
And from Yvo De Boer, UN Climate Chief: "I'm very concerned about the pace of things. If we don't manage to get the work done in time on the future, then the whole house of cards basically falls to pieces."
The battle is about the EU's request for a non-binding agreement on carbon emissions. You read that correctly. The "wrecking crew" is balking at a non-binding agreement. There is concern that, if this cannot be resolved, the statement that comes out of Bali will be so anemic as to be useless in furthering the implementation of climate goals in the years ahead.
The U.S. representative, Under Secretary of State, Paula Dobriansky, dismissed that, saying that "we don't have to resolve all of these issues here in Bali." She called instead for a "solid Bali road map, one that sets the stage for robust, constructive and ground-breaking negotiations in the months ahead."
The EU and other member nations disagree, as does the U.N., which put out this robust and constructive road map in February of 2007.
The negotiations for the compromise deal has extended the conference:
The EU has been pressing for the final text to include a specific commitment that industrialised nations should cut their emissions by 25-40% by 2020.The Director of Friends of the Earth reports that the pressure on the U.S. from the EU is "immense" right now to agree to the EU 25-40% emission reductions proposed for 2050. It is not known whether the Bush Administration will agree or if the target number will be left out. Friends of the Earth reports that it is not the American people or American business that disagrees, but only the Bush Administration that is standing in the way of the deal.
The US and Canada oppose firm cuts - a draft text circulating around contains no figures for 2020.
The Indonesian hosts have been trying to bridge the gulf between the sides. Link.
The conference is set to conclude today.