Global Trends by Martin Khor
Monday 17 December 2007
The United Nations’ climate
conference ended dramatically in Bali last Saturday after the
The Bali Climate Change Conference concluded successfully one day late on Saturday afternoon after a dramatic day of events that at times saw tempers rising openly, and the direct intervention of the UN Secretary General and the Indonesian President to appeal to the countries to make a final deal.
In the end, the conference agreed to launch a “comprehensive process” to tackle a long list of issues, including how to mitigate (take preventive measures) and adapt to climate change, as well as provide the financial resources and technology to developing counties do so.
At previous meetings of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), it was still being debated by a few governments whether climate change is really occurring or how serious it is.
The most significant result
At least three controversial issues have been set aside for the time being, because there was no consensus, but are bound to re-appear when the working group starts working.
The first is whether issues other than the four building blocks will be included in the agenda of group. Many developed countries had proposed topics such as the further commitments of developing countries, a level playing field for economic competitiveness and energy security.
These topics had been opposed by many developing countries as being either out of the mandate of the UNFCCC or as being not “mature” enough for negotiations. At the group’s first meeting next March, which will establish its work programme, these new issues are bound to return through proposals of the developed countries.
The second is whether the new process will lead to a new “comprehensive” agreement, or whether it will strengthen the implementation of the existing treaties governing climate change -- the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol.
The developed countries made it clear they want to radically change or replace the Kyoto Protocol and even parts of the Convention. The developing countries are deeply suspicious of this intention, as the two treaties are relatively friendly to them.
Under these present treaties, the developing countries also commit to take measures to fight climate change but they are not obliged to undertake legally binding emission reduction targets, and their efforts are conditioned by the extent to which the developed countries provide finance and technology.
Throughout the two weeks’
talks in Bali, the
In the final outcome, there was no mention that the working group would come up with a new “agreement”, but the pressures to alter some of the basic tenets of the existing treaties will resume at the group.
One success on the final
day was that the conference managed to pull in the
Another important result is that developing countries have agreed to take “nationally appropriate mitigation actions in the context of sustainable development, supported by technology and enabled by financing in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner.”
As one Minister stated at the closing, it is the first time developing countries have made this commitment. They insisted however in including that their efforts must be accompanied by finance and technology assistance from developed countries, and that this (together with the developing countries’ mitigation actions) be also measurable and verifiable.
These two paragraphs were
so problematic that the
A plea by many countries
In the end, the
But many of the battles that were fought here were not settled and the ball is now in the feet of the new working group. It will meet in March/April 2008 and three other times next year and will finish its work in 2009.
Developing countries should now upgrade their research and negotiating capacity to take on the challenge of their new commitments and to be able to negotiate properly in the working group.