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The Wrap on the Bali Climate Change Conference

Through Drama, Emotions, Boos And Ovations: Bali Road Map Adopted. Indonesian President Plays Crucial Role in Breaking Deadlock.

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Wuryastuti Sunario of the authoritative Indonesian Digest provides the following overview of the just completed United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Bali December 3-14, 2006:

Friday, 14 December 2007 past midnight, and the plenary session of UN Climate Change COP-13 (Conference of Parties) in Bali which was to have adjourned at noon that day was still ongoing. But consensus was nowhere in sight. Delegates definitely looked beat, so Chairman Rachmat Witoelar decided to call it a day and adjourned the meeting to the next morning. The two weeks COP-13 meetings at Nusa Dua Bali, which opened on 3 December now had to be extended with another, - anticipated - exhausting day. At that moment the Bali Road Map was feared to be on the verge of collapse.

COP-13 Chairman, Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar, the Ad Hoc Working Group and the Indonesian delegation were far from thinking of going to sleep as they continued to thrash out the following morning's agenda. At two in the morning, President Yudhoyono suddenly walked in unannounced to hold a private meeting with the Chairman.

Saturday morning, 15 December, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, whose plane was on a refueling transit stop in Bali after a visit to Timor Leste, was seen in unexpected private discussions with President Yudhoyono.

Breaking through a Stalemate

Kompas daily reports that at 13.10 hrs. Central Indonesia Time, both leaders entered the Plenary Session to give unscheduled speeches to weary world delegates from 190 countries who had gathered in Bali with the purpose to decide the fate of planet Earth.

Both leaders reminded delegates on the political agreement reached at the Climate Change Conference at the UN in New York last September, when the strong mandate was given to this meeting in Bali to reach a breakthrough. "This was our common political agreement. For this reason, here and now we must produce the Bali Road Map that will guide us all with concrete steps towards a strong and effective agreement in Copenhagen", said President Yudhoyono to a standing ovation from the floor.

UN Secretary General on his side reminded delegates not to betray their children and life on Planet Earth. Now is no longer the time to discuss concepts, now is the time to take decisions, and "I am certain that you will decide wisely", said Ban Ki-moon.

After more heated debates came that historic moment when the delegate from Papua New Guinea, releasing the conference's pent-up collective frustration challenged the United States: "We ask for your leadership and we seek your leadership. If you are not willing to lead, please get out of the way".

After last-minute consultations with Washington, American negotiator, Paula Dobriansky announced the dramatic US turn-around decision, backing down on its previous hard line stand, wrote the UPI.

"We want to be part of the road map... and let me say to you that we will go forward and join the consensus," U.S. head of delegation Paula Dobriansky said to cheers and a standing ovation from delegates representing some 190 countries, reported the Jakarta Post. And thus, the Bali Road Map was adopted.

With that, the Bali conference succeeded to strike an accord that according to many, achieved more than what could have been expected, wrote the UPI.

"The magic moment came after both President Yudhoyono and the UN Secretary-General delivered their incredible speeches, which changed the mood of the conference," UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Yvo de Boer said.

“This is a real breakthrough, a real opportunity for the international community to successfully fight climate change."

"Parties have recognized the urgency of action on climate change and have now provided the political response to what scientists have been telling us is needed", said de Boer.

No Specified Targets, But Agreement On Collective Action By Developed-Developing Countries

The crux of the conflict that came into the open during the second week of meetings of the COP-13 in Bali concerned the explicit and quantifiable emissions reduction targets for developed nations and what sort of obligations poor and emerging economies should take on in the future. In this conflict, the United States, backed by Canada and Japan faced EU members who insisted on a minimum reduction of between 25%-40% of emissions by industrial countries by 2020, that would ensure that global warming would not rise above a critical 2 degrees Celsius. The U.S., on the other hand, persisted that quantifiable and measurable emissions reductions should not be demanded from established industrial countries alone, but should also be demanded from emerging countries (with special mention to China and India).

On the other side, developing countries within the G-77 led by China opposed mandatory emissions on emerging nations since these countries are still suffering from centuries of poverty and are only now trying to extricate millions of their own population from dire poverty through industrialization. In addition, climate change that was mainly caused by pollution from industrialized countries are already negatively impacting on poor countries, exacerbating their sufferings. Moreover, for small island-nations, climate change consequences are already a reality today, as isles are flooded and are fast disappearing.

In this context, to compare data, Bisnis Indonesia said that according to Carma/CGD, country-wise, highest polluters are: 1. The United States of America (2,790 million tons), 2. China (2,680 million tons), 3. Russia (661 million tons), 4. India (583 million tons), 5. Japan (400 million tons), and 6. Germany (356 million tons), while Indonesia emitted 92.9 million tons, caused chiefly by forest fires.

However, per capita-wise, Australians are world’s highest polluters at 10.7 tons per person, followed by the U.S.A. at 9.3 tons, South Africa and Russia at 4.6 tons and China at an average 2.0 tons per person. Indonesians, on the other hand, produce a low 0.4 tons per capita.

Most Salient Decisions in the Bali Road Map

The Bali Road Map charts the course for a new negotiating process to be concluded by 2009 that will ultimately lead to a post-2012 Kyoto Protocol international agreement on climate change. Ground-breaking decisions were taken which form core elements of the roadmap. They include the launch of the Adaptation Fund as well as decisions on technology transfer and on reducing emissions from deforestation. These decisions represent various tracks that are essential to achieving a secure climate future. Core items in the Bali Road Map, as reported by the Indonesian language Kompas daily, include among others:

1. An unanimous agreed response to the findings of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and that delay in reducing emissions significantly constrains opportunities to achieve lower stabilization levels and increases the risk of more severe climate change impacts.

2. Delegates recognized that deep cuts in global emissions will be required to achieve the ultimate objective, and emphasize the urgency to address climate change.

3. The meeting further decided to launch a comprehensive process to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the UN Convention Framework through long-term cooperative action, up to and beyond 2012.

4. The Bali roadmap is based on a shared vision for long-term cooperative action, including a long-term global goal for emissions reductions, to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention, in particular the principle of common but differentiated

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