Monday, December 17, 2007

Bali… the final hour

While it’s received some press – certainly more than Nairobi last year – the negotiations in Bali still have not held the spot light here in the US the way they should be. I haven’t heard much from any of the candidates, although one of them (whoever wins) was central to these negotiations, which resulted in a 2-year timeline for establishing the follow-up to Kyoto, which expires in 2012. That 2-year timeline of course opens the door for post-Bush representation by the US, after a potentially costly 8-year delay. The details of the plan are available here: http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_13/items/4049.php

Throughout the 2-weeks US delegates were disruptive to the process, and it was only in the last hour – and only following a full minute of booing and hissing from the world community that we agreed to come to the table with the rest of the world. Here’s a more in-depth description from the Solve Climate blog: http://solveclimate.com/blog/20071215/eyewitness-bali-jeering-assembled-nations-humbles-bush-delegation-join-fold.

Some excerpts:

And then the moment of truth: India presented the alternative text from the G-77+China. The essential point about this alternative text is that it takes into account "differences in national circumstances" amongst developing countries.

Portugal, speaking on behalf of the European Union, let the other shoe drop. "We support the proposal made by....India." …Even the Saudis rose to say they could live with the G-77 text.

And then it was the turn of the United States. Assistant Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, with only the absolute bare minimum of diplomatic language, stated flatly that the United States rejected the changes. It was not prepared to accept the G-77 text.

Then occurred one of the most remarkable sounds that has perhaps ever been heard in the annals of international diplomacy--like a collective global groan--descending then to a murmur, then increasing in volume to a full-throated expression of rage and anger and booing and jeering, lasting for a full minute, so that finally the Minister had to call the meeting back to order.

(The Americans, with almost unspeakable rudeness, issued invitations to the next 'major economies meeting' on the first day of the Bali COP. Sort of like making a big show of announcing your engagement while at someone else's wedding.)

Casting all diplomatic niceties to the winds, the representative from Papua New Guinea stood up and said: "if you're not willing to lead, please get out of the way."

Meanwhile, we hear little about this, we are fed an insane logic that addressing what the science tells us would be “unfair” if China, struggling out of poverty, does not act first (ignoring for one thing the 100+ years of emissions already in the atmosphere that we’re responsible for), and led to believe that addressing this problem will necessarily have negative impacts on the economy and our standard of living. I think the opposite is true, and that we can improve our standard of living through better, more sustainable lifestyles, by driving the growth of value in our economy through a strategic shift to sustainable systems. We are seeing leadership in this regard from many sectors – business, municipal and state government, higher education, not-for-profit – and increasingly from the federal legislators (in large part in response to demands from business). As the world moves forward in this shift, the delays we’re suffering on the federal level and in the international sphere are going to be costly. So stay involved, vote with the ballot, your wallet, your actions and intentions, and stay going…