Bali talks beginning

Starting tomorrow morning, there will be twelve days of talks in Bali, Indonesia intended to begin the process of drafting a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, when the period it covers ends in 2012. This particular meeting is mostly about choosing the structure for the real negotiations. Three possibilities are likely:

  1. The parties agree to extend the Kyoto Protocol, keeping in place many of its institutional structures
  2. The parties decide to create a whole new instrument
  3. The talks collapse in acrimony, with no agreement

Which of these takes place will largely depend on the stances adopted by the great powers and major emitters, especially the United States, Russia, China, Japan, Brazil, and the European Union.

Some questions of succession hang over the proceedings. The new Rudd government in Australia has only been in power for a week, and may not have a well developed negotiating position. More importantly, everyone knows the Bush administration will soon be out of power. Leading Congressional Democrats are attending the summit themselves. It remains to be seen what effect that will have.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

17 thoughts on “Bali talks beginning”

  1. New agreement must include big polluters: Baird

    Updated Sun. Dec. 2 2007 6:56 PM ET News Staff

    This week’s conference in Bali will put Canada among the world leaders in battling climate change, according to federal Environment Minister John Baird.

    “We want to negotiate an agreement that’s tough and effective and brings in all the big players,” Baird told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday, adding that failure is not an option.

  2. Canada to encourage ‘constructive’ emissions agreement at UN talks: Baird

    Last Updated: Sunday, December 2, 2007 | 11:38 PM ET

    Environment Minister John Baird says Canada will head to a UN climate change conference in Bali with a “solid” plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions and will push for a “constructive” agreement with other countries to encourage global reductions.

    Canada is among 190 countries participating in the UN climate change conference in Indonesia. Its purpose is to establish a blueprint for a new international pact that will replace the Kyoto Protocol after 2012. Some 10,000 people in all have gathered for two weeks of talks, which follow a series of scientific reports this year that concluded the world has the technology to slow global warming, but must act immediately.

  3. Rudd takes Australia inside Kyoto

    Australian Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd has been sworn in as prime minister, following a landslide victory in parliamentary elections last week.

    Immediately after the ceremony, he signed documents to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, reversing the previous administration’s policy.

  4. Oz fest

    By David Roberts

    UPDATE: Australia’s new government has ratified Kyoto. Wow. That was fast.

    “As of yesterday we now have two dedicated, intelligent, enlightened ministers who are committed to helping the country get to grips with the environment, water and climate change, and who are eager to seek and accept the best advice available from the scientific community, economists and business leaders. Mr Rudd declared yesterday that his minister for The Environment, Heritage and the Arts is Mr Peter Garrett – the former head of the Australian Conservation Foundation (equivalent to the Sierra club in the US and the RSPB in Britain). And in addition there will be a dedicated Minister for Climate Change and Water – Ms Penny Wong, a Malaysian-Chinese immigrant. Ms Wong will lead the way in international negotiations on climate change, Mr Garrett will lead the way in developing and implementing policy within Australia.”

  5. Bali Would
    What’s up with the climate conference in Bali?

    Have you been hearing chatter at cocktail parties and on witty webzines about a big climate-change bash in Bali? Wondering what the deal is? We’re so glad you asked.

    The rumors are true: From Dec. 3 to Dec. 14, more than 15,000 people from 190 nations will gather in Bali, Indonesia: politicians, bureaucrats, nosy reporters, earnest activists — the usual party-hearty crowd. They’ll give due respect to the “global” in global warming, and discuss what to do about it — in particular, what should be done after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The goal is to come up with a framework for a brand-new global climate treaty.

  6. IPCC Chief Calls Canada a Climate “Opportunist”

    By Ross Gelbspan on Ipcc

    Canada is being “opportunistic” in its stance on carbon emissions reductions, the head of the Nobel Prize-winning IPCC said Thursday.

    Canada has said emissions reductions targets should apply to all major emitters, including China and India, although past negotiations have agreed that industrialised countries bear greater responsibility for climate change.

    It is really an opportunistic position that they are taking,” said Rajendra K. Pachauri,. “This particular government has been a government of skeptics. They do not want to do anything on climate change,” Pachauri said.

  7. Prairie Sun Setting on Tory Climate Policies
    13 Dec 07

    The Winnipeg Sun, not generally a bastion of prairie liberalism, has penned this remarkably articulate editorial speculating that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s internationally embarrassing global warming position could be the issue that drives his party from power.

    Or, he could just change his position ….

  8. “In short, there is no leadership in Canada on this file. Therefore, we have no moral or political authority to preach solutions to anyone, anywhere. We’re among the wealthiest people on Earth, in relative terms, and we’re not taking climate change seriously. Why should the Indians and the Chinese do so, when they’re still struggling to pull hundreds of millions of people out of poverty?

    Here’s what might achieve results: Canada, the United States, Europe, Japan, Australia, acting in concert, agree to slash emissions by 40% by 2020. We then exert moral, and economic pressure on the Chinese and the Indians to do the same. As a sweetener we offer them access to our own mass-produced, efficient, clean-energy technology — cars, generating stations, wind turbines.

    Yes, that might work. But thanks to Stephen Harper and his government, it looks as though we’re not about to find out. So far, Canada’s obstructionist role at Bali has been critical: We’ve provided political cover for the United States to continue to resist any global move forward. The Chinese and the Indians will in turn, use that to justify their own stands. And around we go…

    John Baird’s performance at Bali has been worse than shameful. Every single Conservative Member of Parliament should be made to answer for it.”


    Negotiations have continued into the early hours on Friday night/early Saturday in two small, high-level groups as a deal continues to elude ministers. Insiders suggest that talks may continue for at least the next few hours, with a plenary session tentatively scheduled for 8:00 am local time.

    Meanwhile, news reports suggest that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will return to Bali in the morning..

  10. 2:30am: BREAKING NEWS


    The small group of ministers and high-level officials has reportedly brokered a deal just after 2:00 am local time. The text would start a Bali roadmap leading to a post-2012 agreement in Copenhagen in 2009. The roadmap would include a “twin-track” process under the Convention and the Protocol.

    However, the deal still needs to be considered by all parties in plenary starting at 8:00 am tomorrow.

  11. “We seek your leadership. But if for some reason you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of the way.”

    — Kevin Conrad, U.N. delegate from Papua New Guinea, during contentious last-minute climate talks in Bali. Conrad’s blunt declaration was met with applause.

  12. Does Baird know what he’s saying?

    While Baird was blathering on (“Canada is committed to the United Nations process and these discussions”), his delegation was fighting hard to keep verifiable targets for developed nations out of the Bali agreement. We won the battle, even if we helped ruin our children’s lives.

    Emilie Moorhouse, of the Sierra Club of Canada, was in Bali last week. Describing this country’s stance in her blog, she used the following adjectives: “extreme … undiplomatic … absurd … disruptive … ridiculous … shameful … embarrassing.”

    “Canada is committed to action,” said Baird. True, if stalling and polluting can be defined as action.

    Or perhaps Baird meant that Canada is committed to sabotage. That was the verdict of Hans Verolme, global climate-change director of the World Wide Fund for Nature. “The U.S. government,” Verolme stated, “aided by a small group of nations including Canada and Japan, has … thrown up several roadblocks in the negotiations.”

    Of course, it’s also possible that Baird isn’t mentally ill at all. It’s possible the minister was lying through his teeth. But that wouldn’t be a charitable thing to say at Christmastime, would it?

  13. Sadly, the substance did not remotely match the storyline. The only real achievement at Bali was a decision to set up a pilot project to investigate how to stop tropical deforestation (see article). Aside from that, the conference, with 15,000 delegates, activists and journalists, cost a great deal in money, carbon and political energy and produced nothing but a vapid statement of good intentions, from which America ensured that all substance was removed. An international agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol, which runs out in 2012, does need to be reached. But negotiations will get nowhere until 2009, when this American administration will probably make way for one that takes climate change seriously…

    This is not the best way to go about cooling the planet. Ideally, the world would set a global carbon price (through a tax or a cap-and-trade system) that charged industries for the damage they do to the environment and thus shifted the economy away from carbon. A patchwork of local, sectoral rules risks piling on layers of regulations that distort incentives, raise costs excessively and prove hard to sweep away if and when a better system eventually emerges.

    However, as Bali showed, politics has a habit of undermining economics. A global carbon price remains a distant hope, and the planet is getting warmer. In its absence, targeting dirty industries is a stop-gap. And the experience of cutting sulphur emissions in America in the 1990s argues that second-best solutions can give way to the best: regulations on power stations were eventually superseded by a successful cap-and-trade scheme that cleared the stuff out of America’s air


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