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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 29th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Our website has plenty of stories how the UN was keen in allowing on board only journalists that will not tackle such problems. It was the UK that opened the taboo, and now probably thanks to the new Administration in Washington, the subject is moved center stage. Will the UN allow outside journalists to come and cover these discussions? Don’t bet on it – it will need a new UN before the taboo is removed from the oil-is-good-for-you syndrome at the UN.

Refugees Join List of Climate-Change Issues

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Jennifer Redfearn

Huene, an island in the Carteret Atoll, which is part of Papua New Guinea, has been bisected by the sea.
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR
Published: May 28, 2009


UNITED NATIONS — With their boundless vistas of turquoise water framed by swaying coconut palms, the Carteret Islands northeast of the Papua New Guinea mainland might seem the idyllic spot to be a castaway.

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Ruby Washington/The New York Times
Stuart Beck, the permanent representative for Palau at the United Nations, in 2005.

But sea levels have risen so much that during the annual king tide season, November to March, the roiling ocean blocks the view from one island to the next, and residents stash their possessions in fishing nets strung between the palm trees.

“It gives you the scary feeling that you don’t know what is going to happen to you, that any minute you will be floating,” Ursula Rakova, the head of a program to relocate residents, said by telephone. The chain could well be uninhabitable by 2015, locals believe, but two previous attempts to abandon it ended badly, when residents were chased back after clashing with their new neighbors on larger islands.

This dark situation underlies the thorny debate over the world’s responsibilities to the millions of people likely to be displaced by climate change.

There could be 200 million of these climate refugees by 2050, according to a new policy paper by the International Organization for Migration, depending on the degree of climate disturbances. Aside from the South Pacific, low-lying areas likely to be battered first include Bangladesh and nations in the Indian Ocean, where the leader of the Maldives has begun seeking a safe haven for his 300,000 people. Landlocked areas may also be affected; some experts call the Darfur region of Sudan, where nomads battle villagers in a war over shrinking natural resources, the first significant conflict linked to climate change.

In the coming days, the United Nations General Assembly is expected to adopt the first resolution linking climate change to international peace and security. The hard-fought resolution, brought by 12 Pacific island states, says that climate change warrants greater attention from the United Nations as a possible source of upheaval worldwide and calls for more intense efforts to combat it. While all Pacific island states are expected to lose land, some made up entirely of atolls, like Tuvalu and Kiribati, face possible extinction.

“For the first time in history, you could actually lose countries off the face of the globe,” said Stuart Beck, the permanent representative for Palau at the United Nations. “It is a security threat to them and their populations, which will have to be relocated, which is the security threat to the places where they go, among other consequences.”

The issue has inspired intense wrangling, with some nations accusing the islanders of both exaggerating the still murky consequences of climate change and trying to expand the mandate of the Security Council by asking it to take action.

“We don’t consider climate change is an issue of security that properly belongs in the Security Council; rather, it is a development issue that has some security aspects,” said Maged A. Abdelaziz, the Egyptian ambassador. “It is an issue of how to prevent certain lands, or certain countries, from being flooded.”

The island states are seeking a response akin to the effort against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. “The whole system bent itself to the task, and that is what we want,” Mr. Beck said, adding that the Council should even impose sanctions on countries that fail to act. “If you really buy into the notion that the Suburban you are driving is causing these islands to go under, there ought to be a cop.”

As it is, the compromise resolution does not mention such specific steps, one of the reasons it is expected to pass. Britain, which introduced climate change as a Security Council discussion topic two years ago, supports it along with most of Europe, while other permanent Council members — namely, the United States, China and Russia — generally backed the measure once it no longer explicitly demanded Council action.

Scientific studies distributed by the United Nations or affiliated agencies generally paint rising seas as a threat. A 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, detailing shifts expected in the South Pacific, said rising seas would worsen flooding and erosion and threaten towns as well as infrastructure. Some fresh water will turn salty, and fishing and agriculture will wither, it said.

The small island states are not alone in considering the looming threat already on the doorstep. A policy paper released this month by Australia’s Defense Ministry suggests possible violent outcomes in the Pacific. While Australia should try to mitigate the humanitarian suffering caused by global warming, if that failed and conflict erupted, the country should use its military “as an instrument to deal with any threats,” said the paper.

Australia’s previous prime minister, John Howard, was generally dismissive of the problem, saying his country was plagued with “doomsayers.” But a policy paper called “Our Drowning Neighbors,” by the now governing Labor Party, said Australia should help meld an international coalition to address it. Political debates have erupted there and in New Zealand over the idea of immigration quotas for climate refugees. New Zealand established a “Pacific Access Category” with guidelines that mirror the rules for any émigré, opening its borders to a limited annual quota of some 400 able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 45 who have no criminal records.

But its position has attracted criticism for leaving out the young and the old, who have the least ability to relocate. Australia’s policy, by contrast, is to try to mitigate the circumstances for the victims where they are, rather than serving as their lifeboat.

The sentiment among Pacific Islanders suggests that they do not want to abandon their homelands or be absorbed into cultures where indigenous people already struggle for acceptance.

“It is about much more than just finding food and shelter,” said Tarita Holm, an analyst with the Palauan Ministry of Resources and Development. “It is about your identity.”

Ms. Rakova, on the Carteret Islands, echoes that sentiment. A year ago, her proposed relocation effort attracted just three families out of a population of around 2,000 people. But after last season’s king tides — the highest of the year — she is scrounging for about $1.5 million to help some 750 people relocate before the tides come again.

Jennifer Redfearn, a documentary maker, has been filming the gradual disappearance of the Carterets for a work called “Sun Come Up.” One clan chief told her he would rather sink with the islands than leave. It now takes only about 15 minutes to walk the length of the largest island, with food and water supplies shrinking all the time.

“It destroys our food gardens, it uproots coconut trees, it even washes over the sea walls that we have built,” Ms. Rakova says on the film. “Most of our culture will have to live in memory.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

WIP on our website means WORK (WRITING) IN PROGRESS – or simply unfinished article. When finished the WIP will be taken off but the article will stay in place without the UPDATED designation. Nevertheless, theses introductory lines will remain as a reminder that the article had a long birth.

***

The meeting, August 15, 2008 was chaired by the Ambassador For Palau. Present were also the Ambassadors from Nauru and from Fiji. Many other Missions were represented – some of these missions have representatives on the working committee. Involved are also some of the active NGOs.

At present the sponsors of a resolution to be brought before the UN General Assembly are 11 from among the 14 Pacific Small Island Developing States – Fiji, Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu; the Maldives and Seychelles from non-Pacific SIDS; Canada, the Philippines from among larger States. But these 15 States will pick up many more co-sponsors. Mentioned were Turkey, the EU, Austria and Iceland that have expressed their eagerness to join. There is no opposition we were told – but only some hesitation because it is seen as a new approach to the problem of the humanitarian impact of climate change that goes on already – this while in major UN institutions the debate has not led yet to action. The inhabitants of the small islands of the Pacific are the first to lose their habitat – and what we see is the eradication of UN Member States by this predictable catastrophe.

On our website we announced this encounter between the proponents of the resolution and the NGOs:

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)We also pointed out the topically relevant event at the Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart Festival” when Lemi Ponifasio’s REQUIEM had its two evenings before a New York audience.The history of this special effort by the Pacific SIDS started on February 15, 2008, in a speech by Ambassador Stuart Beck of Palau, before the UN General Assembly:www.palauun.org/news_archive.cfm?news_id=189Palau Calls for Security Council Action to Protect Island Nations From Sea-Level Rise.

NEW YORK, NY,  www.islandsfirst.org February 15, 2008 — Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations at the High Level Debate on Climate Change, H.E. Stuart Beck, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Palau, citing the “life or death” nature of sea-level rise for the world’s island nations, urged the Security Council to utilize its powers under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to address this threat to member states by imposing mandatory greenhouse gas emission standards on all member states, and utilizing the power to sanction, if necessary, to encourage compliance with such standards.

He said:
“The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else…Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken…We take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?”

States reacted swiftly to the statement. This week, Ambassadors are meeting in New York to draft a General Assembly Resolution requesting Security Council intervention to prevent an aggravation of the climate change situation caused by greenhouse gas emissions by states. Pacific Island states will be in the forefront of the effort, since they are both the most vulnerable states, and amongst the least responsible for the problem.

Last year, the Security Council debated the security implications of climate change. Its then President, Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett of the United Kingdom, affirmed that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”. Chapter VII of the UN Charter conveys to the Security Council the necessary tools to address the problem, as it has done so in recent years in connection with terrorism and HIV/AIDS. No other international body has the power to mandate change in an effort to save the threatened island cultures of the world.

The full text of Ambassador Beck’s remarks at the UN Climate Change debate is as follows:

“Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, friends:

The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else. Salinization of fresh water and formerly productive lands continues apace. The reefs, the foundation of our food chain, experience periodic bleaching and death. Throughout the Pacific, sea level rise has not only generated plans for the relocation of populations, but such relocations are actually in progress. Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken. Larger countries can build dikes, and move to higher ground. This is not feasible for the small island states who must simply stand by and watch their cultures vanish.

Is the United Nations simply powerless to act in the face of this threat to the very existence of many of its member states? We suggest that it is not.

Last April, under the Presidency of the United Kingdom, the Security Council took up the issue of climate change. At that time, while there were some expressions of discomfort with the venue of the debate, a discomfort which we decidedly did not share, there was general agreement with the notion expressed by the President of the Security Council, UK Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”.

Islands are not the only countries whose existence is threatened. Ambassador Kaire Mbuende of Namibia characterized climate change as a ” a matter of life or death” for his country, observing that ” the developing countries in particular, have been subjected to what could be described as low-intensity biological or chemical warfare. Greenhouse gases are slowly destroying plants, animals and human beings.”

Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum at last years Security Council debate Ambassador Robert Aisi, of Papua New Guinea observed that climate change is no less a threat to small island states than the dangers of guns and bombs to larger countries. Pacific Island countries are likely to face massive dislocations of people, similar to flows sparked by conflict, and such circumstances will generate as much resentment, hatred and alienation as any refugee crisis.

Ambassador Aisi observed then, and we reiterate now, that it is the Security Council which is charged with protecting human rights and the integrity and security of States. The Security Council is empowered to make decisions on behalf of all States to take action on threats to international peace and security. While we applaud the efforts of the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General to shine a light on this awful problem, we take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?

Under Article 39 of the Charter, the Security Council “shall determine the existence of any threat to peace…and shall make recommendations…to maintain or restore international peace or security”. We call upon the Security Council to do this in the context of climate change.

Under Articles 40 and 41 of the Charter, it is the obligation of the Security Council to “prevent an aggravation of the situation” and to devise appropriate measures to be carried out by all States to do this. While we Small Island states do not have all the answers, we are not unmindful of the scientific certainty that excessive greenhouse gas emissions by states are the cause of this threat to international security and the existence of our countries. We therefore suggest that the Security Council should consider the imposition of mandatory emission caps on all states and use its power to sanction in order to encourage compliance.

We further propose that under Article 11 of the Charter, the General Assembly is empowered to call to the attention of the Security Council “situations which are likely to endanger international peace and security” and, at the appropriate time, we will call upon this body to do so. In the event that the General Assembly chooses not to avail itself of this right, then we will call upon the countries whose very existence is threatened to utilize Article 34 of the Charter, which empowers each Member State to bring to the attention of the Security Council any issue which “might lead to international friction”.
I think we can all agree that international friction is a mild term to describe the terrible plight in which the island nations now find themselves.

Our Charter provides a way forward. Our Security Council has the wisdom and the tools to address this situation. And while we debate, the waters are rising.

Thank you.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 12th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The “Mostly Mozart” New York City Lincoln Center Summer Festival has become a New York City annual staple. For years it is also connected to the name of the theater director Peter Sellars who would bring in, or create, some special event as part of this festival. Years ago he did this sort of work in Purchase, Westchester County, New York, just outside the city where he staged new insights into Mozart Operas – but since moved these activities to the main location of the city. Jane Moss is the Artistic Director, and to her credit that she pulled in Peter Sellars who here, as in other locations in the world, including Vienna, Austria, has become an acknowledged ferment for creativity. These activities may have only remote connection to Mozart – but he somehow manages to find some link to the culture underneath Mozart’s art. But please, do not look for Mozart’s music in some of these events.

In any case – please remember that this REQUIEM was created by invitation of the 2006 Vienna Celebration of the 250th year Anniversary of Mozart’s Birth and the director for these events was Peter Sellars.

***

This Year, in the summer of 2008, July 29 – August 23, 2008 – “Mostly Mozart came up with two such events. Both, as the vast majority of the Festival’s events are imports:

(a) REQUIEM, an event created in Vienna, that was now seen in New York for two evenings only, Friday August 8th and Saturday August 9th, and a discussion between Peter Sellars and Lemi Ponifasio, the creator, choreographer, and designer of the event on the opening night’s afternoon.

(b) LA PASSION DE SIMONE, that was actually directed by Peter Sellars, and can be attended Wednesday August 13th, Friday August 15th, and Sunday August 17th, with two discussions open to the public on August 13th – a pre-concert discussion with Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, and August 15th – a post-concert discussion with all those involved in the production. This event is about the personal voyage of Simone Weil with text by the Paris-based Lebanese writer Armin Maalouf. We are happy to be able to note this show here as we hope to create some interest among our readers to go to see this show. We are sorry that we were not able to bring pre-event information in the case of REQUIEM.

Before moving on to REQUIEM I would like to mention that when I looked up on the internet the term “Simone Weil” I found to my astonishment, that the best material is in German, French or Spanish – nothing very enlightening in English. so I decided to post the short biography that on the english Wikipedia is posted in German –

“Simone Weil wuchs in einer großbürgerlichen jüdischen Familie in Paris auf, ihr Bruder André wurde ein berühmter Mathematiker. Am Lycée war sie Schülerin von Alain. Sie studierte an der École Normale Supérieure Philosophie und wurde danach (1931) Mittelschullehrerin in der französischen Provinz.

In diesen Jahren – sie arbeitete eine Zeit lang als Fabrikarbeiterin bei Renault – und bis zu ihrem kurzen Einsatz im Spanischen Bürgerkrieg (wo sie auf der Seite der Anarcho-Syndikalisten in der “Kolonne Durruti” kämpfte) war sie politisch aktiv. Ab 1936 traten für sie religiöse Fragen in den Vordergrund, wobei sie zuvor Atheistin war. Sie näherte sich dem Katholizismus an und ließ sich möglicherweise sogar kurz vor ihrem Tod taufen, nicht offiziell von einem Priester, aber – gültig – von einer Freundin. Von der Taufe im Londoner Krankenzimmer vor der Abreise nach Ashford berichtet zwar 1989 Georges Hourdin in seiner Biographie (Simone Weil) und teilt einen Briefwechsel mit Pater Perrin und Simone Deitz mit, in den Aufzeichnungen Simone Weils, die sie bis kurz vor ihrem Tod weitergeführt hat, findet sich allerdings kein Hinweis. Zeit ihres Lebens litt sie an schwersten, oft unerträglichen Kopfschmerzen.

Wegen der deutschen Besetzung Frankreichs floh sie zunächst nach Marseille, 1942 in die USA und anschließend nach England, wo sie Mitglied des Befreiungskomitees Charles de Gaulles wurde. Sie starb an Magersucht, wobei nicht sicher war, ob sie durch die starken Kopfschmerzen magersüchtig wurde.”

***

First, let me introduce the background material that was handed out at the August 8th discussion:

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Lemi Ponifasio (photo Pincas Jawetz)

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Peter Sellars (photo Pincas Jawetz)

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The August 8, 2008 Lincoln Center discussion (photo Pincas Jawetz)

To show what a large scope this REQUIEM has, as I understood it, I would like to mention that the positions taken by its author when explaining what we will be going to see in his answers to Peter Sellars – in above discussion, served me also in my reporting that day on the opening of the Olympics: www.sustainabilitank.info/category/china#6593 In that article I already tackled the essence of the discussion under:

The “Super 8 Friday” – 88888 – Resulted, According to Front Page New York Times The Following Day, In Super-Power News Characteristic to Our Times: In The Old World East Of The Atlantic Russia Moved Further Troops Into Georgia, While West Of The Atlantic Another Top US Politician Revealed That He Cheated On His Wife – In The World of The Future – China Gave A “Dazzling” Coming-Out Party.

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz ( PJ at SustainabiliTank.com)

I will add here that like in all art, the real creation in art is in the eye and mind of the viewer. What we see is merely the raw material that creates the vision, feelings , and understanding in our minds. As such – different people will say they saw, or interpreted what they saw, in very different ways. As such, even though Lemi Ponnifasio laid out before us various aspects of what we will watch in his ceremonial approach to life (mind you – he made it clear that the Pacific islanders are not actors and this is not a show) different people will still see in it different things.

In my previous comments in the “China” article I mentioned the standing poles that are there as the center-pieces of a house/home without walls – my friend saw in it at a later stage the symbol of smoke stacks that come with electricity-generation turbines that pollute the air, that creates the loss of the life on these islands, that is therefore the loss of the culture, and it becomes thus the Requiem to a Requiem where the second Requiem in this statement is actually the remembrance of the culture that is gone, so that the Mozartean Requiem is the resurgence of the memory of life.

I saw above in the discussion, but my friend added to it the smoke-stack symbolism that her “American” mind added to his “Samoan” interpretation. Both these things do not appear in other reviews I picked up from the press desk the following day – then again, this does not bother me at all – some of the viewers did still see this as art despite the fact that Lemi Ponifasio is imploring us to accept that this is a ceremonial of life and death – the death of not just individuals – but of whole cultures. Individuals in that culture do not die. They continue to be with us because those cultures transcend the physicality of death. Yes, in China the dead’ ashes may sit in an urn – right there on the mantle-piece, but the islanders have no mantle-piece and do not need the ashes as symbol that the passed-on did not pass away. He is just not seen by the naked eye but is felt – this how the people of Kiribas (Kiribati) feel their old islands even when they live now in New Zealand – the host country that agreed, in gallantry to accept in their midst the climate change/global warming refugees from the sinking islands of the Pacific.

How right are those at the UN who look at the climate change/global warming induced destruction, starting first with the Pacific islands and extending then to the low-lands of countries like Bangladesh, and continuing to cities like New Orleans and Miami Beach, as threats to World Security and Peace. Global Warming refugees will not be accepted easily like in this case where New Zealand stepped in to help.

New Zealand is Aotearoa – the Europeans that came to live in new Zealand found there the Maori who are Pacific Islanders and made a pact with them to live in peace. The New Zealanders of European descent, who since became the large majority in the two main islands of New Zealand, do not mind now to see this immigration of Maori-alike people and the enhancement of this aspect of the islands culture. After all – this is an enrichment that eventually will benefit all – even those that will still try to cling to the memories of the “old country.” People like Ponifasio understand that there is a need to compromise, after all, he takes his ceremonial before paying audiences that regard it as theatre. He will try to educate them by explaining that there is a quantum-jump difference here. But he will compromise nevertheless so his 24 members of his MAU get a way of making a living – even though they will also enhance visions of people ready to see beyond what their eyes trick them to see.

www.SustainabiliTank.info saw in the various slow actions on the stage, birds, fishes, people that have a loss of habitat. Starting with the chest self-pounding of the Maori heroes, we move to see the moaning climate-victims. We watch to the end how the mats on the floor are neatly folded away as the floor of the ground is going under-water. The reality of space is still there – the two pillars that define the space do not tumble down – but simply are renegotiated and the people leave.

This was a fascinating 90 minutes I spent watching that stage and old memories came back to my mind. These were memories of the end of the sixties and seventies when the new off-off Broadway was born. I saw there the staging of Robert Wilson on the life and times of personalities – the likes of Stalin or Sigmund Freud at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The very slow dragging action leading to tremendous impacts left behind. I remembered Richard Schechner’s lectures at NYU, and his involvement with the La Mama theater – his talks about Shamanism as the birth of theater. I saw later some of what he was talking about in places like New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, South Africa. I felt like seeing now some of these real things – right here in New York – and low and behold – it was about effects of global warming – I hope I was able to convey some of it in this posting.

One comment about Richard Schechner that I must add here – this because I learned this fact only after posting the China Olympics piece: “In March 2005, the Richard Schechner Center for Performance Studies was inaugurated as part of the Shanghai Theatre Academy, where Schechner is an Honorary Professor. With The Performance Group, Schechner directed many productions including “Dionysus in 69″ based on Euripides’ The Bacchae (1968 production)”

The second half of this relates obviously to the “Bacchae” which was the first piece of the Lincoln Center Summer festival 2008 that we posted on www.SustainabiliTank.info. I hope that someone from our theatre-art intelligentsia could do a comparison between that 1968 production and the 2008 production. Then it was about the shamanic aspect in the Bacchae celebration – now we end up seeing a late women-liberation and self-destruction aspect. To put it nicely – Schechner had then his feet more solidly on the ground and the years since did not serve us well.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 8th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The World Values Survey is available at: www.worldvaluessurvey.org www.happyplanetindex.org

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Download the reports
Download the Happy Planet report (2006, pdf)
Download the European Happy Planet report (2007, pdf)

See the Global HPI map:  www.happyplanetindex.org/map.htm

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 5th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


Why your happiness matters to the planet: Surveys and research link true happiness to a smaller footprint on the ecology.

By Moises Velasquez-Manoff, Staff Writer of The Christian Science Monitor / July 22, 2008
From New York, Reporter Moises Velasquez-Manoff discusses the correlations between happiness, material goods, and ecological footprints.

Overall, people around the world have grown happier during the past 25 years – this according to the most recent World Values Survey (WVS), a periodic assessment of happiness in 97 nations.

On average, people describing themselves as “very happy” have increased by nearly 7 percent. The findings seem to contradict the view, held by some, that national happiness levels are more or less fixed.

The report’s authors attribute rising world happiness to improved economies, greater democratization, and increased social tolerance in many nations. Along with material stability, freedom to live as one pleases is a major factor in subjective well-being, they say.

But the survey, based at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research in Ann Arbor, also underscore that, beyond a certain point, material wealth doesn’t boost happiness.

The United States, which ranked 16th, and has the world’s largest economy, has largely stalled in happiness gains – this despite ever more buying power.

Americans are now twice as rich as they were in 1950, but no happier, according to the survey.

Other rich countries, the United Kingdom and western Germany among them, show downward happiness trends. For psychologists and environmentalists alike, these observations prompt a profound question. Rich countries consume the lion’s share of world resources.

Overconsumption is a major factor in environmental degradation, global warming chief among them.

Could a wrong-headed approach to seeking happiness, then, be exacerbating some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems? And could learning to be truly content help mitigate them?

In the past decade, a cadre of psychologists has directed its attention away from determining what’s wrong with the infirm toward quantifying what’s right with the healthy. They’ve christened this new field “positive psychology,” and what they’re discovering perhaps shouldn’t be all that surprising. At the core, humans are social beings. While food and shelter are absolutely essential to well-being, once these basic needs are fulfilled, engagement with other human beings makes people happiest.

For Martin Seligman, director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the problem in the US is not consumption per se, but that as a society we consume in ways that don’t make us happy. He divides the pursuit of happiness into three categories: seeking positive emotion, or feeling good; engagement with others; and meaning, or participating in something larger than oneself.

People, he notes, are often happiest when helping other people, when engaged in “self-transcendent” activities. What does this mean?

Rather than making a gift of the latest iPhone, buy someone dancing lessons, he says. Instead of taking a resort vacation, build a house with Habitat for Humanity.

“The pursuit of engagement and the pursuit of meaning don’t habituate,” he says, whereas trying to feel good is like eating French vanilla ice cream: The first bite is fantastic; the tenth tastes like cardboard.

By definition, happiness is subjective. And yet, scientists find measurable differences in people who describe themselves as happy. They’re more productive at work. They learn more quickly. Strong social networks – a large predictor of happiness – also have health effects, researchers say.

One study found that belonging to clubs or societies cut in half members’ risk of dying during the following year. Another found that, when exposed to a cold virus, children with stronger social networks fell ill only one-quarter as often as those without.

For psychologists, social networks explain one of the seeming paradoxes of WVS findings: While relatively rich Denmark took the top spot, much less wealthy Puerto Rico and Colombias are second and third. In fact, relatively poor Latin America countries often score high on WVS rankings. This may underline the value of community, family, and strong social institutions to well-being.

Scientists say this need for community may be a result of humanity’s long evolution in groups. Living together conferred an advantage, they say. In the hunter-gatherer world, relatedness, autonomy, curiosity, and competence – the very things that psychologists find make people happy – “had payoffs that were pretty clear,” says Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester in New York. “Aspiring for a lot of material goods is actually unhappiness-producing,” he says. “People who value material good and wealth also are people who are treading more heavily on the earth – and not getting happier.”

High consumption fails to make us happy, and it comes at a cost. According to the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) 2006 Living Planet Report, humanity’s ecological footprint now exceeds earth’s capacity to regenerate by about 25 percent.

Furthermore, with only 5 percent of the world’s population, North America accounts for 22 percent of this footprint. The US consumes twice what its land, air, and water can sustain. (By contrast, WWF calculates that Africa, with 13 percent of earth’s population, accounts for 7 percent of its footprint.) America’s outsize footprint results in part from its appetite for stuff – what psychologists now say is the wrong approach to lasting well-being.

“The pursuit of happiness can drive environmental degradation, but only a degraded type of happiness pursuit leads to that outcome,” says Kennon Sheldon, professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri, Columbia, in an e-mail. “The standard western focus upon economic utility as the highest good (exemplified by the US) seems to encourage that kind of degraded pursuit.”

Worse, so-called “extrinsic” values (wealth, power, fame), as opposed to “intrinsic” values (adventure, engagement, meaning), seem to go hand-in-hand with more environmentally destructive behavior.

Tim Kasser, an associate professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., has found that people who are more extrinsically oriented tend to ride bikes less, buy second-hand less, and recycle less.

Nations with more individualistic and materialistic values also tend to be more ecologically destructive.

“The choice of sustainability is very consistent with a happier life,” Professor Kasser says. “Whereas the choice to live with materialistic [values] is a choice to be less happy.”

The idea that what’s good for humanity is also good for the planet is central to environmentalist Bill McKibben’s book “Deep Economy.” His prescriptions for lowering carbon emissions – living closer together, relocalizing food production, consuming less – line up with what psychologists say promotes happiness.

In fact, although painful in the short term, high fuel prices may result in happier Americans in the long run, says Mr. McKib ben. This year, Americans drove less than they did the year before – probably for the first time since the car was invented, he says. They also bought double the vegetable seeds this year compared with last. “These are signs of a new world,” he says by e-mail.

For their part, psychologists are advocating that policymakers use indicators other than the Gross National Product (GNP) to make decisions. What’s the purpose of an economy, they ask, if not to enhance the well-being of its citizenry?

“It’s because growth for growth sake” says Nic Marks, founder of the Centre for Well-beong at the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in London. It’s got its own internal logic, but it’s not serving humanity. So why are we doing it?”

Bhutan uses Gross National Happiness as a measure of its success. Although small and undeveloped, the largely Buddhist nation is the happiest in Asia, according to BusinessWeek.



Psychologists also have specific recommendations to promote national happiness, based on their findings about what makes people happy. Insecurity fosters a materialistic approach to life, they say. Policies that combat insecurity – universal healthcare, say, or good, affordable education – promote happiness. Many link social policies like these to Scandinavian nations’ consistently high happiness rankings.

Kasser has more ideas: Limit – and tax – advertising, he says. To promote consumption, ads foster insecurity, he says. That hinders self-acceptance, which is another predictor of lasting well-being.

NEF’s Happy Planet Index (HPI), meanwhile, has developed a new measure of a nation’s success. How efficiently does it generate happiness? HPI takes a country’s happiness and average life span and divides it by its ecological impact to measure how much it spent in achieving its well-being. On this scale, the Pacific archipelago nation of Vanatu comes in first place, Colombia second. Germany is twice as efficient at producing happiness as the US, which ranks 150th by that measure. Russia, with its low happiness scores and relatively low life expectancy, is 178th. And Zimbabwe, plagued by poverty and political turmoil, is the least efficient at producing happiness on Earth.

How The HPI is calculated:

The HPI reflects the average years of happy life produced by a given society, nation or group of nations, per unit of planetary resources consumed.

Put another way, it represents the efficiency with which countries convert the earth’s finite resources into well-being experienced by their citizens.
The Global HPI incorporates three separate indicators: ecological footprint, life-satisfaction and life expectancy. Conceptually, it is straight forward and intuitive:

HPI = [ (Life satisfaction x Life expectancy) /(Ecological Footprint + α) ] x ß

(For details of how alpha and beta are calculated, see the appendix in the full Happy Planet Index report)

The World Values Survey is available at: www.worldvaluessurvey.org www.happyplanetindex.org

screenshot_2.png

Download the reports
Download the Happy Planet report (2006, pdf)
Download the European Happy Planet report (2007, pdf)

See the Global HPI map:  www.happyplanetindex.org/map.htm

The article appeared in The Christian Science Monitor – features.csmonitor.com/environmen…

picture1.jpg
It’s not genetics that makes Danes happy and Russians gloomy, according to the World Values Survey which, for thirty years, has been sending out questionnaires to people in 95 countries to ”know how others experience the world”. (NEWSCOM)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Nordic Climate Solutions – Scandinavia ´s annual marketplace for low carbon economy leaders – takes place on November 25th and 26th, 2008, in Copenhagen. The event is jointly organized with the Nordic Council of Ministers and a series of industry leaders from the Nordic Region.

Nordic Climate Solutions takes form as a combined conference and trade show. While the conference identifies current challenges and opportunities, the tradeshow presents state of the art solutions for achieving a low carbon economy.

Towards and beyond the Copenhagen UN Summit, NCS gathers a significant number of business and industry leaders. In 2007 the event gathered more than 600 decision makers. This year more than 1000 delegates are projected for the event in November.

As we would like to offer our delegates key insight from experts WE ARE CURRENTLY LOOKING FOR SPEAKERS for the following sessions:

– Building the Future – Energy Efficiency:

What energy and carbon savings could be realized if older commercial buildings had the energy consumption of the newer commercial building stock? How can we improve the incorporation of different energy efficiencies into different types of domestic and non-domestic buildings? And what will it take to achieve mass deployment of carbon neutral buildings?

– Adaptation in the Third World – Markets Beyond China and India:

As a global problem, climate change demands global solutions – yet the majority of the technology and financing for these solutions are not accessible to emerging economies and developing nations. India and China are naturally the center of attention when it comes to CDM projects or other climate action projects and policies, but how can we ensure that countries in Africa, Asia and South and Central America also have the capacity and the technology to develop in a sustainable and climate friendly manner?

– The Future of CDM – The Post 2012 Scene:

At the moment, there are more than 3,000 CDM projects in progress. What is the potential of the CDM on the post 2012 scenario and what concrete measures will be presented a the COP15 to improve this mechanism and ensure that it is contributing to global emission reductions and to technology transfer to all developing nations

Climate Solutions for China:

China is on its way to become the largest energy market in the world, with the greatest environmental challenges. This creates an enormous potential for the Nordic companies. The current five-year plan of China contains 250 billion dollar for investments in energy savings and environmental considerations and a range of ambitious goals.

Thinking Outside the Barrel:

President George W. Bush has stated that: “America is addicted to oil.” At times when the price approaches $150 per barrel – it is an expensive addiction to have. Fortunately, several alternatives exist.

The Finance of Climate Change – A Guide for Governments and Corporations:

The financial markets hold an increasingly important role in government and corporate initiatives designed to fight climate change and make the transition to the low carbon economy.

Less is More – Energy Efficiency (End Use):

Improved energy efficiency is often the most economic and readily available means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, there exists a difference between the actual level of investment in energy efficiency and the higher level that would be economically beneficial from the consumer’s point of view.

The Local Market of the Nordic: Russia:

Recently the Russian economy has been developing at a very high pace and significant investments are being made in the energy and environmental sector, as well as in restructuring.

Adaptation – Urban Climate Solutions:

Even with substantial reductions in emissions today, the delay in the climate system means that emissions we have already released into the atmosphere will continue to affect the climate for years to come. The impact on cities and the people living there will be significant.

De-linking Economic Growth from Emissions – Bypassing the Western Route to Low Carbon Economy:

The interrelations between economic growth, energy and CO2 have a tremendous influence on the possibilities of a global ambitious treaty being drafted at the COP15.

EU – Framework Conditions:

This year a new EU energy market package has been submitted. The ambition is to create framework conditions for efficient and functioning sustainable energy markets. How can the EU balance energy policies between the aims of security of supply, competitiveness and sustainable energy?

Renewable Energy Production;

With a raising stream of billions of dollars into the sector, the investments in renewable energy production reach new records each year.The Nordic Region has great experience in renewable energy production from a wide spectrum of sources. How may this experience and knowledge be utilized in the global market and what are the barriers to expanding the renewable portfolio standard?
If you are an expert who could speak on any of these issues or know someone who is, we would greatly appreciate any recommendations you could pass on.

Please reply to  mwi at mm.dk

Thank you for any guidance/recommendations you can provide.

Meik Wiking
Project Manager
Nordic Climate Solutions

Monday Morning
Huset Mandag Morgen A/S
Valkendorfsgade 13
P.O. Box 1127
DK-1009 København K

T: +45 33 93 93 23
F: +45 33 14 13 94
E:  mwi at mm.dk
W: www.mm.dk

NORDIC CLIMATE SOLUTIONS – NOVEMBER 25TH AND 26TH – 2008.

WWW.NORDICCLIMATESOLUTIONS.COM

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT WITHOUT A US INPUT – THE POZNAN MEETING IN DECEMBER 2008 IS JUST A WASTE OF TIME AND PUBLIC FUNDS. WE REPORTED THAT THE US PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UN FOR THE PRESENT WASHINGTON ADMINISTRATION, AMBASSADOR ZALMAY KHALILZAD, TOLD US THAT HE WILL WORK WITH THE TRANSITION REPRESENTATIVES FOR THE INCOMING PRESIDENT THAT WILL BE ELECTED IN NOVEMBER, BUT WILL IT BE POSSIBLE WITH THIS HYBRID DELEGATION TO ACTUALLY SAVE THE PACE OF THE CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATIONS THAT HAVE A SELF IMPOSED TIMETABLE ON THE ROAD TO COPENHAGEN? WHAT GOES ON THIS WEEK IN BANGKOK IS JUST THE TEA TIME ON THE WAY TO POZNAN – AND WE SEE ALREADY THAT THE WAY IS NOTHING BUT A TRACK IN THIN AIR.

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP), April 3, 2008, reproted by USA Today — The U.S. government insists it is deeply engaged in talks started this week on the world’s next climate pact, but other negotiators are already looking ahead to the next administration — and wondering what to expect.


Nations have less than two years to piece together a deal that scientists say is needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions and stop temperatures from rising so high they trigger disaster.

The high-stakes negotiations that began Monday in Thailand, however, are complicated by the coming U.S. presidential election.

Crucial details — such as how much Washington is willing to cut U.S. emissions — cannot be fully discussed until a new president takes office next year, slowing action on a final deal, some negotiators say. And it is far from certain what a new administration’s negotiating stance will be.

“The nature of the U.S. commitment … is unclear, and I suspect we’re not going to get a clear signal from the U.S. until after the next election,” said Ian Fry, a representative for the island nation of Tuvalu, which faces danger from rising sea-levels caused by global warming.

The world’s nations agreed last year at a conference in Bali to conclude a pact by December 2009. The agreement would succeed the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol warming agreement, which expires in 2012.

U.S. President George W. Bush has rejected the 1997 Kyoto pact, arguing it would hurt the American economy and was unfair because developing countries were not required to cut emissions. The agreement committed 37 wealthy nations to cut emissions to an average of 5% below 1990 levels by 2012.
Harlan Watson, the head of the U.S. delegation in Bangkok, insisted the administration was fully involved in the negotiations for the new pact.

Congress and leading U.S. presidential candidates have shown willingness to cap emissions. But Watson said the U.S. still wants commitments from major developing nations, no matter who is in the White House.

So far at Bangkok, however, he has limited his public statements to procedural issues.

“At this point in the process, there’s no enthusiasm for talking” about specific targets, Watson said.

“We don’t want to do anything that’s going to cut off the next administration’s options,” he said later.

U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer acknowledged that one of the toughest parts of the haggling ahead — on how much industrialized countries will cut emissions — would best be discussed with a new U.S. administration.
The goal of the talks will be a complex document including emissions reduction commitments by industrialized countries; measures by developing countries; and financing and technology transfer to help them control emissions and adapt to the effects of rising temperatures.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 20th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Al Gore Will Not Be The On The Front Page Of Time Magazine’s “Man Of The Year” – But To Us He Is THE MAN OF 25 YEARS. We will explain:

In 1992, the President was Bush the Elder. There was going to be the Rio UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCED). Al Gore Is US Senator.

The US wanted really no part of this because much of the talk was going to deal with Sustainable Energy and the US was in the oil corner in cahoots with its friends among the Middle East oil merchants. Here comes a US Senate delegation headed by Al Gore, the Democrat from Tennessee. Also present were Senators Timothy Wirth and John Kerry. They started to talk to the Europeans as if they were a US II delegation. Actually they were the delegates to-be of a new Administration-in-Waiting to-come. They won the day and even President Bush I had to come to Rio in order to save his legacy. We were there and witnessed it all.

In 1997 The COP3 of the UNFCCC – a direct outcome of the Rio UNCED of 5 years earlier. Al Gore was by then the US Vice President.

President Clinton realized that there was no Senate backing for fast moves, or real moves actually, on the subject of moving the economy away from dependency on the use of oil. Had the Democrats in the Clinton years tried to be more forthcoming perhaps something would have happened after all – but they did not. In the meantime, much of the rest of the world wanted change and on the table for the UN conference in Kyoto were proposals for starting a regime to limit future increases of CO2 emissions, and eventual serious decrease in these emissions. The US was not keen about it, others had problems with the propsals – and here comes Al Gore with the idea of allowing for trade in pollution permits. This idea was based on the US very successful experience with such trading in sulphur and nitrogen oxides in order to reduce danger from acid rain caused by coal burning electric plants. This was a National program, and Al Gore saw the business potential in making CO2 permits an International program that could benefit Sustainable Development in Developing Countries.

Eventually, it was Al Gore comming to Kyoto that sealed the Kyoto Protocol. The Russians came on board because they negotiated for the countries comming out from under comunism a niche within this trading system – the so called trading permits in “hot air,” and the European Union allowed also for their own internal trades. The others just realized that this was the best document they can get at that time. The Kyoto Protocol was born and Al Gore was the the obstetrician. We were there and witnessed it all.

In 2007, The COP13 of the UNFCCC and COP/MOP3 of those countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Al Gore is the Nobel Peace Prize winner and the double Oscars winner on topics of global warming/climate change awareness.

This time Al Gore was just a speaker representing the conscience of the world – this in UN terms is an NGO. Was he again speaking for a Government-in-Waiting to-come? We do not know, we did not know in 1992 either but say so with the full clairvoyance of hind-sight. Actually Al Gore spoke now with the laurels of Super-Government on his head. The Champion of the world’s future as opposed to the Administrator of a diminishing US – the job that was snatched from him in 2000. But Al Gore has learned from his own experience in life. He has grown in stature in his new endeavor of Guardian of Planet Earth Laureate. He became also a better politician. This time we were not there – so we did not see it with our own eyes at Bali. Neither was there Gwynne Dyer who wrote about Bali very eloquently from London for the Japanese press. We liked her reporting best and we post an excerpt thereof:


“The U.S. was almost completely isolated at the Bali talks. Its only two allies among the developed countries were Canada and Japan, both of which promised modest emission cuts under the Kyoto accord 10 years ago but then allowed their emissions to soar. And the danger was that the frustration and fury of all the other delegations, in the hothouse atmosphere of a two-week conference, would lure them into a pointless and destructive confrontation with the U.S.

It was former U.S. Vice President Al Gore who saved the day with a speech in which he urged the conference to be patient. “My own country, the United States, is mainly responsible for obstructing progress at Bali,” he admitted, but “over the next two years the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now. . . . One year and forty days from today there will be a new (presidential) inauguration in the United States.”

“If you decide to continue the progress that has been made here on all the items other than the targets and timetables for mandatory reductions, on the hope and with the expectation that, before this process is concluded . . . you will be able to fill in that blank (with the help of a different position from the U.S.), then you can make great progress here.”

(Read: President George W. Bush will soon be gone. Even though time is short, you have to wait him out.)

The conference took Gore’s advice and removed the numbers from the text. Even then, astonishingly, the U.S. delegation declared that it could not support the revised text — and a chorus of boos rang out in the crowded conference hall. A delegate from Papua New Guinea stood up and told the U.S. delegation: “If you’re not willing to lead, please get out of the way.”

After a short huddle, the U.S. delegation announced that it would support the revised text after all.”

Our proposal is thus – The person whose influence will be shown as greatest on World’s Future, during the last 25 years, was Al Gore. So he should get Time Magazine recognition as such. He has already our recognition. The fact that Time chose Putin for the year 2007 does not have to interfere with this larger recognition that deals with 25 years.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Final Evaluation Of The Bali Meetings Looks Better Then We Dared To Hope For – This Because There Are Clear Dynamics That Does Not Allow Leaders In Power To Have Their Ways.


OK, time has come that we summarize the events of the last two weeks and after that march away to other pressing issues.

Clearly, Bali did not live up to the exaggerated expectations the European leaders put into their wishes from the meetings, but was it a failure?

For those that expected the earth to fall into climate-collapse and disrepair, Bali presented very dim results. But then, if the worst of the prognoses would indeed materialize, then also all what Europe does is not sufficient, and a more forthcoming result from Bali could also not have saved the world – for that – it is already late.


But, if we think with cooler minds, then we can see that Bali has made it possible for a definite move to progress:

– Let us start with Japan and Russia that obliged themselves with planning for moves to reduce dramatically their CO2 emissions.

– The Responsibilities of the more advanced among the developing countries were defined more accurately.

– With the political U-turn in Australia, a country that joined now the ranks of those that signed the Kyoto Protocol – this left in the rejectionist’s front only the US and Canada from among the industrialized countries.

– With the US there was also a change. There is a slowly creeping change of mind and the surprising agreement to the consensus by its delegate to Bali, the White House insider, Paula Dobriansky, has now made possible that an
agreement will be readied in two years.

– The eventual agreement will go beyond the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC, because now all big States will be part of the agreement. The finalization of such an agreement will occur after the Presidential elections in the USA.
Seemingly it was always planed this way.

– By the time of the COP 14 of the UNFCCC meeting in Poznan, in December 2008, there will already be a new US “President-in-Waiting” and he or she will come to the meetings or will send an emissary. With the new President
moving into the White House on January 20, 2009, it will be this new President that will be involved in the negotiations during the year 2009 – with the final outcome planned for Copenhagen at the COP 15 of the UNFCCC.
All the main contenders in the US elections, the Democrats, and the Republicans, have shown interest in pulling through the new climate change agreement, this because there is already a majority among the US population that wants positive results. Some of the main US States, including California, are already moving along lines similar to the EU States. Many US businesses are already on the process train – and the train is moving indeed.

– It is clear that the developing countries will commit suicide if they do not think about the effects their fast industrialization has on the planet, but it is also true that they will do nothing unless the industrialized countries make first and decisive moves. So, a US Administration that starts by showing a positive example will have a much higher chance for succeeding in its negotiations with China and India, then the present Bush Administration.

– So far as the UN is concerned, the snail pace of the UN decision making process is a hindrance by the fact that it is slower then the pace of climate change. We say thus with full understanding of the meaning of this skepticism
when thinking about the UN, that the efforts by the US in starting bilateral negotiations with other large polluters, if handled by a US President who is keen about what he says, is not such a bad idea as it sounds, when put forward
by the present US administration. Eventually a club of major polluters, let’s say of 80% of the total emissions will be formed, and the implementation of the program that will be discussed in Copenhagen will be entrusted to this club.
Were the US present Administration not as obstinate as they were, they could even have claimed some rights for trying to engineer this polluter’s club. The reality remains that they lost credibility by expressively not recognizing the
seriousness of the problem, censoring scientific research, removing some of the best leaders in climate change issues and so on …, but looking back at Bali, all may yet be back on track. Thank you German Minister of the
Environment, Mr. Gabriel – you are credited with getting the US attention on 12/16.2007 as you got the UN Commission on Sustainable Development attention on the night of 5/11/ 2007. The post-Kyoto process was put now back on tracks; the CSD process has yet to be revived. The CSD is important because in the end effect, there will be no action on climate change if there is no consensus that all development must eventually be of the Sustainable
Development kind.

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A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF COP 13 & COP/MOP 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             by the IISD team in Bali the KIMO ENB Summary and Analysis now online:
BALI: ISLAND OF THE GODS AND BREAKTHROUGHS?
You should not be impelled to act for selfish reasons, nor should you be attached to inaction. (Bhagavad Gita. 2.47)
Marking the culmination of a year of unprecedented high-level political, media and public attention to climate change science and policy, the Bali Climate Change Conference produced a two-year “roadmap” that provides a vision, an outline destination, and negotiating tracks for all countries to respond to the climate challenge with the urgency that is now fixed in the public mind in the wake of the headline findings of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report. The outline destination is an effective political response that matches both the IPCC science and the ultimate objective of the Convention; it was never intended that the Bali Conference would focus on precise targets. Instead, the divergent parties and groups who drive the climate regime process launched a negotiating framework with “building blocks” that may help to square a number of circles, notably the need to reconcile local and immediate self-interest with the need to pursue action collectively in the common and long-term interests of people and planet. The informal dialogue over the past two years has now been transformed into a platform for the engagement of parties from the entire development spectrum, including the United States and developing countries.
This brief analysis opens with a discussion on the complexity of the climate change process, and describes the elements of the Bali roadmap and their potential significance in enabling negotiations on the future of the climate regime, including a post-2012 agreement. It identifies the main political achievements of the Conference, and assesses some of the specific outcomes from negotiations on the so-called “building blocks” of mitigation, adaptation, financing and technology transfer.
MANAGING COMPLEXITY
Of the 10,000 participants in the Bali Conference, it is likely only a handful of them had a meaningful grasp of all the pieces that now make up the deepening complexity of the climate change regime. Delegates in Bali had to balance meetings of the UNFCCC COP and the Kyoto Protocol COP/MOP, along with the subsidiary bodies, the Ad Hoc Working Group, dozens of contact groups and informal consultations on issues ranging from budgets to national reporting to reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries, not to mention side events held by governments, international organizations, business and industry, and environmental NGOs. Balancing the large number of participants, issues and negotiating venues requires stamina, time management and a lot of creativity. With the launch of new negotiations on a long-term agreement, which, by definition must be more ambitious than anything that has gone before, yet another piece has been added to the ever-growing complex puzzle that makes up the climate regime.
Managing this deepening complexity in a highly sensitive – and largely transparent – political environment has become an extraordinary feat, undertaken by a UNFCCC Secretariat that continues to impress participants with a combination of professionalism, competence and good humor. The UN Secretary-General’s decision to adopt climate change as one of his own UN system-wide priorities, with a more effective division of labor and lines of accountability on climate-related issues throughout the UN system, will shore up the resources required for the future. A greater emphasis on the need to draw on expertise found outside the immediate UNFCCC process was also a notable and timely feature of discussions in Bali.
Nevertheless, the challenge of defining precisely what elements of the Bali decisions and outcomes constitute the “Bali roadmap” is its own complex work in progress. For example, what exactly is the nature of the agreement that must result from the Bali roadmap? This is still a matter of debate, with divergent views on the legal form or architecture that will accommodate and, perhaps elaborate, existing commitments under the Convention and the Protocol in the near term and after 2012. So, while the Bali roadmap was never categorically defined, most are viewing it as a compendium of decisions and processes adopted and launched by the COP and COP/MOP, which can be divided into three types:
·       Negotiating tracks;

·       Building blocks; and

·       Supporting activities, including reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
NEGOTIATING TRACKS                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The Bali roadmap builds on the negotiating tracks on long-term issues launched at the Montreal Climate Change Conference at the end of 2005. In addition to the legal necessity to address the post-2012 period after the Protocol’s first commitment period expires, the Bali roadmap aims to mend some of the fractures that have evolved in the architecture of the climate change regime, most notably the refusal of the United States to ratify the Protocol. The institutionalization of tensions between developed and developing country parties,   the crisis of confidence surrounding the implementation of existing commitments, and a growing need for the distribution of responsibilities to reflect the economic power and responsibilities of major emerging economies, have also haunted the process. The Bali roadmap must continue to provide a means to re-engage the United States in negotiations on future commitments, with some level of comparability with other developed country undertakings; it must develop innovative mechanisms and incentives for the engagement of the major emerging economies; and it will be judged, above all, by the extent to which it addresses the ultimate objective of the Convention – to put the world on a path to avoid dangerous climate change – by responding, without equivocation, to the IPCC’s findings.
At the heart of the Bali roadmap are the negotiating tracks to be pursued under the newly launched Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action and the existing Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Protocol. The work of each track will be important, but – in all probability – it is the convergence of views, with each track taking the work of the other on board, that will inform deliberations on the ambition and the means for all to contribute to a future agreement or agreements.
One indication of the likely contents of the roadmap came early on in Bali in an intervention by COP President Witoelar during the Contact Group on Long-term Cooperative Action. He explained that the roadmap has a track for negotiations under the Convention, with a milestone in 2008, and a destination in 2009. The centerpiece of this track is the decision on the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action, which for the first time sets out a negotiating agenda that encompasses discussions on mitigation for both developing and developed countries. Since the negotiations will take place under the Convention, they will include all parties – developing countries and the US. However, there is some question as to the nature of the mandate for this track, other than a reference to the ultimate objective of the Convention. Some have contrasted the work of this AWG with the stronger mandate built into the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Berlin Mandate, which resulted in the Kyoto Protocol. “We may have to return to the COP to clarify and strengthen the mandate; for the moment we have taken a leap of faith,” said one observer, hoping that the work would result in a binding agreement.
On the Protocol track is the work programme, methods and schedule of future sessions of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Protocol. Important aspects of the work of the AWG will be taken on board and feed into the second review of the Protocol under Article 9 at COP/MOP 4.
One of the most significant developments in Bali was a shift that the Executive Secretary likened to the “dismantling of the Berlin Wall.” While a “two-track” approach will continue and maintain a degree of separation between discussions under the Convention and the Protocol, the decision on the AWG on Long-Term Cooperative Action uses for the first time language on “developed” and “developing” countries, rather than “Annex I” and “non-Annex I” countries. This is widely regarded as a breakthrough, as it offers the prospect of moving beyond the constraints of working within only Annex I and non-Annex I countries when defining future contributions to a future agreement. It is anticipated that new approaches to differentiating contributions, tied to countries’ economic capacity, will form part of the future architecture. Moreover, the new AWG will also fully engage and address the future role of the US, which has not ratified the Protocol.
The risk in all of this, identified by some developing country parties, is that certain Annex I parties may seize on this development to “jump ship” and attempt to adopt more relaxed commitments than those under the Kyoto Protocol. This led to proposals for a “firewall” that would lock existing Annex I parties into the most ambitious end of the commitment spectrum.
BUILDING BLOCKS
Integral to the emerging and no doubt cross-fertilizing work programmes across the negotiating tracks are the so-called “building blocks” of mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance. These key issues were considered both under the roadmap negotiations and in related talks on topics such as the Adaptation Fund.
With evidence that the confidence-building phase of negotiations has begun to yield some results in terms of the re-engagement of the US and engagement of major developing country economies, the Bali Conference was regarded by some, notably the EU and major NGOs, as the moment to lock the process into evidence-based negotiations on mitigation and commitments. The timing and ambition of the EU’s agenda was not unexpected and contributed to some of the fiercest exchanges between negotiators.
MITIGATION: The debate on mitigation, notably the terms of engagement by developing countries, in the context of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action, was not resolved until the COP plenary on Saturday. Under the gaze of unprecedented media attention, India turned the final hours of negotiations into something approaching a Bollywood Blockbuster, with star-studded cameo roles by none other than the UN Secretary-General and the President of Indonesia, calling on parties to close a deal. Up until Saturday afternoon, the prospect of a collapse of the negotiations was not ruled out by senior participants.
In a defining moment of the Conference, at the final and dramatic COP plenary session, the US stood down from its opposition to a proposal by India, supported by the G-77/China. The Indian proposal aimed to ensure that mitigation actions by developing country parties are supported by technology, financing and capacity building, subject to measurable, reportable and verifiable procedures. This new paragraph has far-reaching implications for linking developing country participation in a future agreement and confidence that they will access the means to deliver. Fired by a suspicion that developed countries had set up future negotiations that might relax their own commitments, while placing too much onus on developing country contributions, India deftly seized the momentum for the closure of a deal on the roadmap, in the full gaze of the world’s media, to introduce a new rigor to the delivery of developed country commitments on capacity building. Introducing this outstanding debate into the final COP plenary on Saturday was just one of the high-risk strategies deployed to press for closure on issues that had played out for days behind closed doors. In the end, after phone calls reportedly involving Washington, the US delegation dropped its opposition to the Indian proposal, stung by rebuffs from South Africa and Papua New Guinea and lengthy applause from delegates and observers who favored the proposal.
The mitigation debate was also behind contested approaches to referencing the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. This battle was fought on two fronts: under the Protocol and under the Convention. In the AWG under the Protocol, Russia, Canada, and Japan lined up to oppose a reference to the 25-40% greenhouse gas emissions reduction range in the AWG’s report from Vienna, which included this and other quotes from the IPCC AR4. Noting that media coverage was feeding public expectations that countries were “going to agree” to reductions in this range and that “we have to be careful about presenting the range as the target,” the Russian Federation continued its opposition all the way to the AWG closing plenary. Canada and Japan, which had argued in the informal consultations that Russia should be heeded, changed their position after a concerted campaign by AOSIS to insert a comprehensive reference to the IPCC AR4.
There was less success on the Convention front in the Dialogue on Cooperative Action, where the reference to the IPCC science is weaker. AOSIS was unable to summon up the support for a stronger reference when negotiators met in a small informal group to close on this issue. Participants believe that this will be a weaker starting point for negotiations on cooperative action under the Convention, and the IPCC references may have to be revisited.
ADAPTATION AND FINANCE: One of the significant outcomes bringing together both adaptation and finance was the decision to operationalize the Adaptation Fund, which was set up to finance adaptation in developing countries. The Fund had proven to be particularly delicate to negotiate because, unlike other funds under the UNFCCC, it is funded through a levy on CDM projects undertaken in developing countries and is therefore not dependent on donors. At past meetings, proposals to appoint the GEF as the Fund’s manager have generated controversies between developed and developing countries, and an agreement on the Adaptation Fund Board, operating under the guidance of the COP/MOP, was a significant breakthrough. However, the early stages of the Conference were marked by intensive lobbying by representatives from the GEF who were determined to secure a role in servicing the Fund. In the end, they secured an interim role in providing a secretariat function.
The establishment of the Adaptation Fund was widely applauded. It was also seen as one of several positive outcomes for the G-77/China at this meeting, which some observers note are a reflection of the increasing economic and political clout of this group.
TECHNOLOGY: The basis for an interim funding programme under the GEF was brokered behind the scenes early in the Conference, although agreement on the final details was complicated. Technology funding is expected to be scaled up when a comprehensive agreement on future commitments is reached, possibly in Copenhagen. Governments agreed to kick start a strategic programme to scale up investment in the transfer of both the mitigation and adaptation technologies needed by developing countries. Again, the outcome was widely viewed as a positive one for developing countries.
SUPPORTING ACTIVITIES – REDUCING EMISSIONS FROM DEFORESTATION                                                                                                                                       A decision on reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries is as significant for the wider deforestation debate as it is for the climate regime. As one observer put it, the deforestation issue has suffered from a level of fragmentation and now, perhaps for the first time, may ultimately be brought under a legally binding framework.
There was an agreement to launch a process for understanding the challenges ahead, including through demonstration activities over the next two years, in preparation for addressing these issues in a post-2012 agreement.
A problematic part of this debate was how to include the issue in the post-2012 regime. The US supported a reference to “land use” in the decision on reducing emissions from deforestation, alarming some observers as it recalled broader discussions of land use that included not only forestry but also agriculture and other forms of land management. There was, however, agreement to open up options in future discussions on long-term cooperative action by including in the decision an explicit reference to reduced emissions from deforestation “and consideration of … the role of conservation, sustainable management of forest and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.”
MOVING FORWARD
The Bali Conference demonstrated that at certain moments in climate talks, notably when negotiations are taking place in the full gaze of a public and media who are better informed than at any time since the emergence of the climate change agenda, parties come under extreme pressure to face up to the science. The high-level political attention given to climate change has introduced an unprecedented level of interest and investment of expertise by organizations, not only by research and advocacy organizations, but also by the media. The number of side events held in parallel to the conference was also unprecedented, and included two full day events during the weekend: the Climate and Development Days, and the Forest Day.
A youth delegate told the COP plenary, “You can’t negotiate with physics and chemistry.” This, of course, is not entirely true. Parties do disagree with the science, but their arguments can sometimes change when they are exposed to the critical gaze of global public opinion. A feature of the Bali Conference was the shift in a number of positions when negotiators left the closed-door ministerials and returned to the plenary sessions, as illustrated by the pressure that came to bear on the US and Canada in the final COP plenary. Transparency can be a decisive factor.
At COP/MOP 3, the interplay between international climate politics and domestic elections was illustrated by the dramatic win by Kevin Rudd’s Labor Party in Australia. In 2008, another domestic election may have a dramatic impact on the global climate change regime, whatever the outcome. The global public gaze that fixed on the COP plenary in Bali will now turn to the US election in November 2008.
In the meantime, parties to the Convention and the Protocol have succeeded in honoring the call for a “breakthrough” that came from the UN Secretary-General’s climate change summit in September. Bali launched far reaching negotiations with a clear deadline for the conclusion of an agreement on the post-2012 period. Bali was successful in delivering the expected roadmap and building blocks. Now it is up to everyone, negotiators, politicians, public opinion and media to play their respective parts – progress in negotiations, take action, keep up the pressure, and maintain vigilance – to make sure the road from Bali doesn’t end up in the sea.

On Saturday evening, December 15, 2007, as the remaining participants at the BICC rushed to catch their flights home or scattered to Ubud or elsewhere to recover, the ENB writing team began work on our twenty thousand-word summary and analysis. The PDF version can be found at www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/enb12354… and for easy cut-and-paste (“Yes, we know you do!!!” – writes KIMO) go to www.iisd.ca/vol12/enb12354e.html

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See Also:

Klimawende für die Zeit nach Bush.
Eric Frey, www.der Standard.at, December 16, 2007.

Der Kompromiss von Bali hat einen Kurswechsel der USA bereits vorweggenommen.
Es war zu erwarten, dass europäische Politiker und Kommentatoren das Ergebnis von Bali als faulen Kompromiss und Rückschlag für den Klimaschutz abkanzeln würden. Tatsächlich wurde in Bali weniger beschlossen als von den EU-Staaten gefordert, vor allem keine Verpflichtung auf konkrete Ziele für die Reduktion der Treibhausgase.

Für all jene, die überzeugt sind, dass die Erde in kurzer Zeit auf einen Klimakollaps zusteuert, war Bali sicher ein Debakel. Aber wenn die schlimmsten Prognosen tatsächlich zutreffen, dann ist auch alles, was Europa tut, viel zu wenig, dann hätte selbst ein besseres Ergebnis aus Bali die Welt nicht retten können.

Geht man – wie viele andere Forscher – von einem etwas weniger dramatischen Szenario aus, dann hat der Klimagipfel hingegen deutliche Fortschritte gebracht. Erstmals haben sich Japan und Russland zu einer dramatischen Reduktion der CO2-Emissionen verpflichtet. Die Verantwortung der großen Schwellenländer wurde genauer definiert, und nach der Kehrtwende in Australien, wo die neue Linksregierung dem Kioto-Protokoll beigetreten ist, besteht die Ablehnungsfront unter den Industriestaaten nur noch aus den USA und Kanada.

Und gerade bei den USA hat Bali den schleichenden Sinneswandel deutlich gemacht. Zwar erwies sich die amerikanische Chefverhandlerin Paula Dobriansky als Hauptblockiererin und zwang die Konferenz in eine Verlängerung. Aber ihre überraschende Zustimmung zu einem Kompromissergebnis in letzter Minute eröffnet nun die Chance, dass innerhalb von zwei Jahren ein ernsthaftes Klimaschutzabkommen zustande kommt, an dem – anders als am Kioto-Protokoll – alle großen Staaten beteiligt sind.

Zwar werden die USA zunächst über das Kioto-Nachfolgeabkommen nicht mitverhandeln. In der entscheidenden Phase aber wird George W. Bush nicht mehr Präsident sein. Sollte im Jänner 2009 ein Demokrat ins Weiße Haus einziehen, dann könnten sich die USA sehr schnell den Verhandlungen über konkrete Treibhausgasreduktionen anschließen. Selbst die führenden republikanischen Kandidaten sind in dieser Frage nicht so stur wie Bush. Die öffentliche Meinung in den USA_fordert lautstark einen Kurswechsel: Die Mehrheit der Amerikaner, bedeutende Unternehmen und wichtige Bundesstaaten wie Kalifornien unterstützen eine Klimapolitik nach europäischem Muster. Die nachträgliche Distanzierung des Weißen Hauses vom Bali-Ergebnis spielt hier keine Rolle: Der Fahrplan ist entschieden, der Zug rollt, und es stellt sich nur noch die Frage, wer auf ihn aufspringt.

Mit ihrer Sorge über den geringen Beitrag der Entwicklungsländer zum Klimaschutz haben die Amerikaner einen wunden Punkt aller Verhandlungen angesprochen, für den sie allerdings mitverantwortlich sind. Es stimmt, dass China und Indien mehr gegen den Anstieg ihrer CO2-Emissionen unternehmen müssen und Maßnahmen nicht auf den fernen Tag verschieben dürfen, an dem sie sich westlichen Lebensstandards angenähert haben. Eine solche Vorgangsweise wäre für alle fatal, und am meisten für die armen Länder.

Aber der Süden wird den Klimaschutz erst dann ernst nehmen, wenn die größeren Klimasünder im Norden mit gutem Beispiel vorangehen. Eine US-Regierung, die dem Energieverbrauch zuhause entschlossen entgegentritt, hätte ganz andere Möglichkeiten auf China und Indien einzuwirken als die Bush-Partie.

Gewonnen haben diese Länder in Bali die Aussicht auf finanzielle Hilfe beim Klimaschutz. Diese kann etwa von Österreich kommen, wenn es wie erwartet sein Kioto-Ziel verfehlt und dann Bußgelder in internationale Töpfe einzahlen muss.

Der kleine Schritt von Bali könnte sich so als Wegbereiter für größere Schritte ab 2010 erweisen – vor allem dann, wenn die Forschung mit Alarmmeldungen weiterhin Weltöffentlichkeit und Politik sensibilisiert. Doch gerade in diesem Fall ist zu befürchten, dass das Schneckentempo der Diplomatie mit dem Klimawandel nicht Schritt halten kann. (Eric Frey/DER STANDARD, Printausgabe, 17.12.2007)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 16th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


Drama and tears before Bali deal was struck.

By Charles Clover, Environment Editor,Telegraph.co.uk from Bali
Last Updated: 4:01pm GMT 15/12/2007

An extraordinary day began with a fresh text of the Bali “road map” which Indonesia’s Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar, as president of the conference, presented to delegates saying a “delicate balance” had been achieved.

India’s ambassador immediately made clear that he was not prepared to go along without it being made clear that there was responsibility of industrialised nations to supply developing countries with clean technologies, finance and support to deal with them problem “in a measurable manner.”

The crucial part of the agreement for developing countries had been rewritten overnight in a way that G77 countries said made it unclear that the supply of finance and clean technology, such as clean coal plants, had to be measurable reportable and verifiable.

China piled in, then Pakistan, and it became clear that this was a full scale row.

The conference was stopped, then restarted by Mr Witoelar, leading to wild accusations by China that the UN’s top climate official, Yvo de Boer, had allowed it to re-start while negotiations, chaired by the Indonesian foreign minister, were still continuing.

This Mr de Boer, in tears after two nights without sleep, later denied, to supportive applause.
Then Mr Witoelar called for another break in which he summoned the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and the Indonesian President Yudhoyono, to read the riot act to delegates and break the deadlock.

Mr Yudhoyono urged the conference not to allow “the planet to crumble because we can’t find the right wording.”

Mr Ban said he was “disappointed at the lack of progress” and pointed out the conference was already due to have ended five hours earlier. This was at 1.20 pm local time.


The conference reconvened. South Africa made an emotional appeal for the Americans to reconsider their statement – and was supported by delegation after delegation from the developing world while Miss Dobriansky and James Connaughton, President Bush’s climate change adviser, talked increasingly animatedly off-microphone.

The killer blow came from the Harvard-educated representative of Papua New Guinea, Kevin Conrad, who used Mr Connaughton’s diplomatic gaffe of earlier in the week to humiliate the Americans.

Mr Connaughton had said: “We will lead. We will continue to lead but leadership also requires others to fall in line and follow.” Mr Conrad said, to applause: “If you are not willing to lead, then get out of the way.”

Miss Dobriansky finally pressed her button to speak again and said: “We will go forward and join the consensus.”

After cheers and diplomatic congratulations, the president of the conference assessed that “we are very, very close”, then banged his gavel down on India’s proposal to mark that a consensus had been achieved.

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Bali Climate Plan Leads to Washington.

By Charles J. Hanley, AP Special Correspondent Published on Guardian.co.UK, Saturday December 15, 2007 7:31 AM.

BALI, Indonesia (AP) – The “Bali Roadmap” for new climate negotiations leads to one address and one date: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and Jan. 20, 2009.

That’s when a new occupant of the White House will be sworn into office, and when a fresh U.S. team, with what many expect to be a new attitude, will take up the negotiating mandate issued here Saturday at the end of the two-week U.N. climate conference.

For seven years, these annual sessions have witnessed a long-running diplomatic feud between the Bush administration, deadset against international obligations for industrial nations to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, and most of the rest of the world, which favors them.

The faceoff played out again in Bali this past week, when the U.S. delegation blocked an effort to insert an ambitious negotiating goal for the next two years – emissions cuts of 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

It was a repeat of what has happened consistently since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which mandated relatively small reductions but was rejected by the U.S.

Time now may be on the side of emission cuts proponents.

From California to New England, U.S. state governments are enacting their own mandatory caps on carbon dioxide and other industrial and transportation gases blamed for global warming. Scores of U.S. cities have adopted Kyoto-style targets, trimming emissions via “green” building codes, conversion of municipal fleets to hybrid vehicles, energy-saving lighting and other measures.

Judging from recent opinion polls, natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the southeastern U.S. drought and the California wildfires apparently are awakening more and more Americans to the potential perils of climate change.

“The majority of the United States is with you,” California’s environment secretary, Linda Adams, told the hundreds of Bali conference delegates last week. “We know that climate change affects all of us.”

In Washington, too, there’s movement after years of inaction. A Senate committee has approved the first legislation mandating caps on greenhouse gases and sent it to the full Senate.

“What you see is a new direction coming,” said David Doniger, a veteran climate policy analyst with the Washington-based Natural Resources Defense Council. “And this new direction is a very clear indication of where our policy is going in the future.”

That policy will be set primarily by the new president, and the Democratic presidential candidates and at least two of the Republicans – Arizona’s Sen. John McCain and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee – have endorsed mandatory emissions caps.

To many at Bali, the U.S. election calendar dominates the climate calendar. Even the diplomatically cautious and precise Yvo de Boer, U.N. climate chief, managed to hint that delegates should bide their time in the coming 2008-2009 negotiations.

“I really hope that that is a discussion” – about emissions reduction levels – “taken up toward the end of that two-year debate,” he told reporters.

But decisive U.S. action, even after Bush, is far from assured.

“The real problem is Congress,” Michael R. Bloomberg, New York’s climate-activist mayor, told a Bali gathering this past week. “They’re unwilling to face any issue that has costs or antagonizes any group of voters.” In fact, the emissions-caps bill may face trouble in the full Senate.

Even swift action may come too late for some.

Rising seas, expanding from warmth and from the runoff of melted land ice, are encroaching on low-lying island states, especially in the western Pacific. In these islanders’ minds, the roadmaps and new directions were needed a decade or more ago.

“We are very concerned that there is so little progress,” Kete Ioane, environment minister of the Cook Islands, told the Bali assembly days ago. “We are merely asking for our survival, nothing more, nothing less.”

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Climate Plan Looks Beyond Bush’s Tenure.
By THOMAS FULLER and ANDREW C. REVKIN
Published: December 16, 2007

NUSA DUA, Indonesia — The world’s faltering effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions got a new lease on life on Saturday, as delegates from 187 countries agreed to negotiate a new accord over the next two years — pushing the crucial debates about United States participation into the administration of a new American president.

Many officials and environmental campaigners said American negotiators had remained obstructionist until the final hour of the two-week convention and had changed their stance only after public rebukes that included boos and hisses from other delegates.

The resulting “Bali Action Plan” contains no binding commitments, which European countries had sought and the United States fended off. The plan concludes that “deep cuts in global emissions will be required” and provides a timetable for two years of talks to shape the first formal addendum to the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty since the Kyoto Protocol 10 years ago.

“The next presidential election takes place at the halfway point in these treaty talks,” David D. Doniger, who directs climate policy for the Natural Resources Defense Council and served in the Clinton administration, said on his Web log on Saturday. “So the U.S. will field a new team in the second half. And there are good odds that the next president will get serious on global warming.”

But the White House, while calling the negotiating plan “quite positive” in a printed statement, said the problem lay elsewhere. It described “serious concerns” about the limited steps taken by emerging economic powers.

Without citing China and India by name, it clearly singled them out, saying: “The negotiations must proceed on the view that the problem of climate change cannot be adequately addressed through commitments for emissions cuts by developed countries alone. Major developing economies must likewise act.”

In the talks, China and other emerging powers did inch forward, agreeing for the first time to seek ways to make “measurable, reportable and verifiable” emissions cuts. But those countries showed no signs of agreeing to any mandatory restrictions any time soon, saying their priority remained growing out of poverty.

The finish to the negotiations came after a last-minute standoff in the public plenary at the end of a day of high emotions, with the co-organizer of the conference, Yvo de Boer, fleeing the podium at one point as he held back tears.

The standoff started when developing countries demanded that the United States agree that the eventual pact measure not only poorer countries’ steps, but also the effectiveness of financial and technological assistance from wealthier ones.

The United States capitulated in that open session, which many observers and delegates said included more public acrimony than any of the treaty conferences since the 1992 framework.

The concession, though, came after a more profound shift by the Bush administration, which agreed during the two-week conference to pursue a new pact fulfilling the unmet goals of the original treaty; the pact would take effect in 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

While many observers described the United States change as a U-turn, it was the culmination of months of movement by the Bush administration, which had for years insisted that the 1992 treaty was enough to avoid dangerous human interference with the climate.

In 2005 talks in Montreal, for example, the American negotiating team walked out of one session, rejecting any talk of formal negotiations to improve on that pact.

Since then, the Bush administration has been confronted by new scientific data on climate change and by growing political pressure both internationally and domestically.

Still, while accepting on Saturday the need for a new agreement, the United States retained the flexibility that it had sought at the outset, fending off European attempts to set binding commitments on emission reductions. American negotiators said that was vital to gain global consensus.

The targets sought by Europe and others remain in the action plan — including the need for rich countries to cut emissions by 2020 up to 40 percent below 1990 levels, and a 50 percent cut in emissions globally by 2050. But they are now a footnote to the nonbinding preamble, not a main feature of the plan.

Andrew Light, an expert on environmental ethics at the University of Washington who was in Bali, criticized the Bush administration for insisting on those targets being sidelined, saying the United States had, in essence, rejected the foreboding climate projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which it had repeatedly praised in recent weeks.

“We could have moved on from here with a confident range of future cuts,” Mr. Light said. “Instead we have to move on with the same continued uncertainty. At the beginning of the week I was really heartened by the public praise the U.S. delegation was giving to the I.P.C.C. and now I can’t help but think, was it all lip service?”

Some environmental groups criticized Europe for not sticking to its guns. But it appeared that, in the end, the Europeans followed a path recommended in a speech last Monday by former Vice President Al Gore, fresh from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.

He advised Bali negotiators to look beyond the Bush administration, whose tenure ends in one year.

Beyond the histrionics and the politics, there were deeper reasons for the continuing clashes: in particular, the huge wave of industrialization and economic growth sweeping Asia.

The United States and Europe were largely responsible for taking the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas emitted by the burning of fossil fuels, to its current concentration of 380 parts per million from 280, a level which, until the industrial revolution, was not exceeded in at least 650,000 years.

But the growth in emissions for decades to come will largely be driven by developing countries, where some two billion people still cook on firewood or dung and crave the comforts and prosperity that come with abundant energy.

According to a recent analysis led by economists at the Electric Power Research Institute, if rich and poor countries do not together divert from “business as usual,” the concentration by 2040 could exceed 450 parts per million, a threshold that many scientists say could set in motion harmful changes for centuries to come.

Europe prevailed over the United States in one area, insisting that the next two years of talks proceed on two tracks: one for those countries, including the United States, not committing to mandatory limits, and a second building on the Kyoto Procotol, the 1997 update to the original treaty that requires emissions reductions in 36 major industrialized nations, but has been rejected by the United States.

The United States team in Bali had fought against that, demanding that a new agreement encompass the world’s major polluters and have sufficient flexibility, and no hard targets, to do that.

But in the end the United States had to agree to two tracks to avoid a total breakdown of the talks.

That is important, environmental campaigners said, because it guarantees work toward new mandatory gas restrictions in 2012, when the limits under the current Kyoto accord expire.

It also sustains a mechanism that, in theory, the United States could join under a new administration — if Congress becomes less insistent that the biggest developing countries move in lockstep.

That demand is reflected in some language in the current climate bill moving forward in the Senate, which demands “comparable” action from such countries.

There were many moments of drama and theater in the negotiations, at a resort complex on the southern tip of Bali, involving 11,000 officials, environmentalists, industry lobbyists and journalists. But nothing else matched the point on Saturday, in the final tumultuous plenary, when the American team was booed for trying to block a proposal by India.

Kevin Conrad, the negotiator from Papua New Guinea, rebuked the American delegation. “If for some reason you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us,” he said. “Please, get out of the way.”

He was alluding to remarks made by an American official, James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, last week to a Reuters reporter, who quoted him as saying, “The U.S. will lead, and we will continue to lead, but leadership also requires others to fall in line and follow.”

That statement had become a sore point to many delegations.

A few more statements were made, but none of America’s traditional allies came to its defense.

Finally, Paula Dobriansky, the lead American negotiator, spoke.

“We came here to Bali because we want to go forward as part of a new framework,” said Ms. Dobriansky, the under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs. “We believe we have a shared vision and we want to move that forward. We want a success here in Bali. We will go forward and join consensus.”

The delegates erupted in lengthy applause, realizing that a deal was finally at hand.

Thomas Fuller reported from Nusa Dua, and Andrew C. Revkin from New York. Peter Gelling contributed reporting from Nusa Dua.

Related
Dot Earth: Move Over Kyoto — Here Comes a ‘Copenhagen Protocol’ (December 15, 2007)
TierneyLab: Contrarians vs. Bali (December 14, 2007)

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The World – As China Goes, So Goes Global Warming.

By ANDREW C. REVKIN, The New York Times, December 16, 2007.
GIVEN the accelerated melting these days in Greenland, it’s probably no longer appropriate to use the adjective “glacial” to describe treaty negotiations aimed at curbing dangerous human interference with the climate.

{Dot Earth – A New York Times blog about climate change, the environment and sustainability. Join the discussion. Comment on this article at Dot Earth }

The talks in Bali over the last two weeks were just the latest baby step in trying to make that happen. The Bali achievement? Two more years of talks. In the meantime, concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main climate-heating emission, continue the climb that began 250 years ago, as industrialization surged on a diet of fossil fuels.

So, presuming the industrialized and industrializing nations are serious, who or what can realistically turn the carbon tide?

As always, the fingers of many experts on energy and the environment point both west and east — to the United States and China.

The established superpower arose riding a wave of fossil-fueled prosperity. The emerging one, sitting on a wealth of coal, sees few reasons not to follow suit; after all, it has only just caught its wave (with India and others in hot pursuit).

Yet the tide can only be turned, a host of scientists and economists with varied perspectives agree, if China and other rising powers like India speed through the familiar path in nation building — resource extraction, industrial and economic growth, accompanying despoliation, and then environmental restoration and protection. If they don’t, their emissions will eventually swamp all other sources, according to many analyses.

Richard Richels, an economist at the Electric Power Research Institute, helped produce an ominous forecast: even if the established industrial powers turned off every power plant and car right now, unless there are changes in policy in poorer countries the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could still reach 450 parts per million — a level deemed unacceptably dangerous by many scientists — by 2070. (If no one does anything, that threshold is reached in 2040.)

Libertarians say that once countries get rich, they’ll do the right thing for the climate. But critics of this view say the long life of carbon dioxide (and of sources like the coal-burning plants China is building at the rate of one a week) mean that waiting just compounds the problem beyond fixing.

Theories abound over how best to help China embrace emissions-reducing policies. One way, many scientists and scholars say, is to make nonpolluting energy sources cheaper than the unfettered burning of abundant fossil fuels. Right now they are far more expensive.

That is why several dozen top-flight climate and energy experts sent a letter this month to members of Congress and the presidential candidates seeking a tenfold rise in the federal budget for energy research, now about $3 billion a year.

Some economists say the only thing that will speed the change is money, whether it is called aid, technology assistance, or something else.

Representatives of developing countries have long made this point, noting that the established powers spent a century building the greenhouse-gas blanket. Speaking in Bali, Munir Akram, Pakistan’s United Nations ambassador, said: “What we have to do is to find a way to reduce emissions by those who can afford to reduce emissions.”

But there are plenty of doubts about the willingness of Congress, particularly, to pay emerging economic competitors.

Some experts see the best prospects for change coming from the ground up, pointing to efforts like MetroBus, a program involving the World Resources Institute that greatly expanded the use of mass transit in Mexico City.

BinBin Jiang, a research associate in energy and development at Stanford University, sees similar opportunities in creating an efficient infrastructure for China’s exploding midsize cities. “That’s where you determine if you are going to leapfrog or go along the old Western path,” she said.

But Ms. Jiang also stressed that meaningful change in energy and climate policy within the United States was critical, too. “China is clearly responsible for the largest wedge of emissions in the future, but the United States is still the biggest roadblock,” she said. “The U.S. is not going to be influential by telling China what to do. It has to lead by example.”

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ECONOMIC VIEW – A Carbon Cap That Starts in Washington.

By JUDITH CHEVALIER, The New York Times, December 16, 2007.


THE United Nations conference on climate change wrapped up in Bali, Indonesia, last week without a firm commitment from the United States or China to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. While a binding global agreement would be the best way to cut back on those emissions, a more limited but still useful approach is available, and it is wending its way through Congress.

In its current version, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, as the bill is known, would cap American carbon consumption through a tradeable permit plan. Even among those who support tradeable permits, there is considerable debate about what level of emissions reductions is realistic. Critics also object that it would damage American competitiveness to commit to domestic reductions without parallel commitments from developing-country trade partners like China.

But instead of using Chinese inaction as an excuse to avoid dealing with the problem, we should consider why emissions from China are soaring. There are numerous factors, all stemming from China’s rapid economic development. Yet one of the biggest is the enormous increase in China’s production of manufactured goods for export. Indeed, a study by the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research in Britain estimated that in 2004, net exports accounted for 23 percent of Chinese greenhouse gas emissions.

We know where most of those Chinese exports are headed — to developed countries, like the United States, which accounts for about a quarter of them. A rough calculation suggests that almost 6 percent of Chinese carbon emissions are generated in the production of goods consumed here. That is the rough equivalent of the total emissions produced by Australia or France.

The Tyndall Center argues that carbon reduction policies should focus on carbon consumption, not emissions. That makes sense, especially in the absence of a binding global agreement.

One goal of a tradeable permit system is to force consumer prices for goods to reflect the harm that the production of those goods causes the planet. For example, if a television were made using a high-emission process, the factory would have to buy many carbon permits, driving up the TV’s price. A television made in a low-emission factory would require fewer permits, lowering its relative price. Consumers, of course, would have an incentive to choose the TV from the low-emission factory, and all factories would have an incentive to lower emissions.

A problem would arise, however, if a producer needed to buy permits to make televisions in a country with a carbon cap, while no permits were required in a country without a cap. The television from the country without the cap would be cheaper, consumers would prefer it, and there would be no economic incentive to cut emissions. Environmentalists call this the “leakage problem”: just as a balloon squeezed at one end will bulge at the other, emissions caps applied in only some economies will lead to emissions surges in others.

A provision in the current version of the Climate Security Act links responsibility to carbon consumption, not production. This idea derives from a joint proposal by the American Electric Power Company and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The provision requires that importers of goods from countries without carbon caps obtain permits for the emissions resulting from the goods’ production. While this requirement could be used to protect American jobs from foreign competition, if handled equitably, it could provide an elegant solution to the leakage problem.

If the United States adopted a tradable permit system that treated emissions from domestic producers identically to emissions associated with imported goods, then products that are more emissions-intensive, whether domestic or imported, would require more permits and thus be more expensive. Producers in the United States and abroad would have an incentive to reduce greenhouse gases to make their goods more competitive.

Of course, such a plan would have an immediate cost for Chinese producers and American consumers. Chinese production methods are now much more carbon-emission-intensive than American methods, so the plan would probably raise the average price of Chinese imports. The alternative, however, is to try to force the Chinese to adopt binding carbon caps similar to those considered in the United States. But that would also raise the Chinese imports’ price. Moreover, Chinese adoption of carbon caps would apply to the whole economy and would be much more costly for China; an American carbon consumption permit system would shield the Chinese domestic sector.

“The best policy — both in terms of the environment and in terms of economic theory — would be to have all countries take on binding emissions caps under an international agreement,” said Nathaniel Keohane, director of economic policy and analysis at Environmental Defense, a nonprofit advocacy group. “But we have to recognize that’s not going to happen overnight.” In the meantime, he said, the United States and other developed countries “need to take the lead.” He called carbon consumption caps “a good first step.”

“FROM an environmental point of view,” Mr. Keohane said, “it would ensure that the pollution we cut here at home doesn’t simply end up coming out of a smokestack somewhere else. It levels the playing field for American companies in the global economy. And it also helps us move toward a truly international system, by providing an incentive for developing countries to take on binding caps of their own.”

The carbon consumption provision will face scrutiny under current trade agreements, but there is sound logic for including it in any emissions legislation. Most important, it would eliminate an excuse for doing nothing.

Judith Chevalier is a professor of economics and finance at the Yale School of Management.

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OP-ED COLUMNIST   – It’s Too Late for Later.

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, Bali, Indonesia, December 16, 2007.

The negotiators at the United Nations climate conference here in Bali came from almost 200 countries and spoke almost as many languages, but driving them all to find a better way to address climate change was one widely shared, if unspoken, sentiment: that “later” is over for our generation.

“Later” was a luxury for previous generations and civilizations. It meant that you could paint the same landscape, see the same animals, eat the same fruit, climb the same trees, fish the same rivers, enjoy the same weather or rescue the same endangered species that you did when you were a kid — but just do it later, whenever you got around to it.

If there is one change in global consciousness that seems to have settled in over just the past couple of years, it is the notion that later is over. Later is no longer when you get to do all those same things — just on your time schedule. Later is now when they’re gone — when you won’t get to do any of them ever again, unless there is some radical collective action to mitigate climate change, and maybe even if there is.

There are many reasons that later is over. The fact that global warming is now having such an observable effect on pillars of our ecosystem — like the frozen sea ice within the Arctic Circle, which a new study says could disappear entirely during summers by 2040 — is certainly one big factor. But the other is the voracious power of today’s global economy, which has created a situation in which the world is not just getting hot, it’s getting raped.

Throughout human history there was always some new part of the ocean to plunder, some new forest to devour, some new farmlands to exploit, noted Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, who came to observe the Bali conference. But “now that economic development has become the prerogative of every country,” he said, we’ve run out of virgin oceans and lands “for new rising economic powers to exploit.” So, too many countries are now chasing too few fish, trees and water resources, and are either devouring their own or plundering those of neighbors at alarming rates.

Indeed, today’s global economy has become like a monster truck with the gas pedal stuck, and we’ve lost the key — so no one can stop it from wiping out more and more of the natural world, no matter what the global plan. There was a chilling essay in The Jakarta Post last week by Andrio Adiwibowo, a lecturer in environmental management at the University of Indonesia. It was about how a smart plan to protect the mangrove forests around coastal Jakarta was never carried out, leading to widespread tidal flooding last month.

This line jumped out at me: “The plan was not implemented. Instead of providing a buffer zone, development encroached into the core zone, which was covered over by concrete.”

You could read that story in a hundred different developing countries today. But the fact that you read it here is one of the most important reasons that later has become extinct. Indonesia is second only to Brazil in terrestrial biodiversity and is No. 1 in the world in marine biodiversity. Just one and a half acres in Borneo contains more different tree species than all of North America — not to mention animals that don’t exist anywhere else on earth. If we lose them, there will be no later for some of the rarest plants and animals on the planet.

And we are losing them. Market-driven forces emanating primarily from China, Europe and America have become so powerful that Indonesia recently made the Guinness World Records for having the fastest rate of deforestation in the world.

Indonesia is now losing tropical forests the size of Maryland every year, and the carbon released by the cutting and clearing — much of it from illegal logging — has made Indonesia the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, after the United States and China. Deforestation actually accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars and trucks in the world, an issue the Bali conference finally addressed.

I interviewed Barnabas Suebu, the governor of the Indonesian province of Papua, home to some of its richest forests. He waxed eloquent about how difficult it is to create jobs that will give his villagers anything close to the income they can get from chopping down a tree and selling it to smugglers, who will ship it to Malaysia or China to be made into furniture for Americans or Europeans. He said his motto was, “Think big, start small, act now — before everything becomes too late.”

Ditto for all of us. If you want to help preserve the Indonesian forests, think fast, start quick, act now. Just don’t say later.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 15th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Official UNFCCC Site Says:

The Conference, hosted by the Government of Indonesia, took place at the Bali International Convention Centre and brought together more than 10,000 participants, including representatives of over 180 countries together with observers from intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations and the media. The two week period included the sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, its subsidiary bodies as well as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. A ministerial segment in the second week concluded the Conference.

The conference culminated in the adoption of the Bali roadmap, which charts the course for a new negotiating process to be concluded by 2009 that will ultimately lead to a post-2012 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.

From the IISD Site We Learn:

Saturday, 15 December: 6:27 pm BALI CONFERENCE ENDS WITH AGREEMENT ON ROADMAP

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The Bali conference has ended on a high note, with agreement on a Bali roadmap after lengthy and at times difficult negotiations. During the closing plenary, many parties expressed their pleasure at the adoption of the Bali roadmap, and thanked their colleagues, the UNFCCC Secretariat and the Indonesian Government. Pakistan, for the G-77/China, highlighted the shared understanding that our partners “will not leave us again” and that “we are taking this step together.” Portugal, for the EU, noted that a busy two years lies ahead, and committed itself to working towards a final agreement in Copenhagen. Closing the meeting, President Witoelar said the decisions in Bali have launched a new process for reaching agreement by 2009. He labeled the meeting as a “breakthrough” where delegates demonstrated leadership to create a sustainable future, and identified the Bali roadmap as a tribute to delegates’ solidarity to tackling climate change, the “defining challenge of the century.” He gaveled the meeting to a close at 6:27pm.

Photo: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after consensus was reached

Saturday, 15 December: 4:30 pm US JOINS CONSENSUS ON LONG-TERM COOPERATIVE ACTION

Reversing previous opposition, the US joined the consensus after all other parties expressed support for the draft text on long-term cooperative action under the Convention. Delegates applauded the US announcement, and also the Secretariat in appreciation of their hard work and efficiency. Delegates then adopted the outcome text. Negotiations continued under the AWG.

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The Secretariat give Yvo de Boer a standing ovation.

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Consulting on the dais.
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Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono meets with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Saturday morning

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon enters the plenary with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the plenary.

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Indian delegation with Halldor Thorgeirsson, UNFCCC Secretariat
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India and Australia confer

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The US initially said it could not join the consensus

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Delegates listen intently to the proceedings

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Responding to US comments, South Africa (left photo) described a statement that developing countries are not accepting their full responsibilities as most unwelcome and without any basis. He noted that a paragraph on developing country mitigation goes further than what is expected in the Convention, while a paragraph on developed country commitments was not as strong as he would have liked.

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After other interventions, including one by Papua New Guinea, who said the US should “lead, follow or get out of the way”, the US said it would join the consensus.


Saturday, 15 December: 2:00 pm UN SECRETARY-GENERAL, INDONESIAN PRESIDENT APPEAL FOR BREAKTHROUGH AS TEMPERS FRAY

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono have addressed delegates in Bali, returning to the meeting to urge delegates to make a final effort to reach consensus. Following Ban Ki-moon’s speech, delegates continued to debate in plenary, with the US stating that it could not accept the latest text as it stands. However, the EU said it could accept the compromise text. Discussions are continuing.

Saturday, 15 December: 11:17 am Plenary adjourns again pending consultations between G-77/China ministers and the Indonesian Foreign Minister

Saturday, 15 December: 10:00am: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon returns to Bali

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Richard Kinley, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNFCCC, briefs UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon upon his arrival in Bali

Saturday, 15 December: 9:41 am: PLENARY ADJOURNS AS INDIA OPPOSES THE DRAFT TEXT AND THE G-77/CHINA MEETS FOR CONSULTATIONS

India speaks to the press following the adjournment of the meeting.

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Saturday, 15 December: 2:30am: BREAKING NEWS: SMALL GROUP AGREES TEXT; PLENARY SET TO MEET AT 8:00 AM BALI TIME

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.

Photo: German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel followed by the press as he leaves the meeting room.
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The delegation of the European Community.

The upshot from this drama was that the Bush legacy would have been completely destroyed by a clear brake with Europe as threatened by the German Minister of the Environment Sigmar Gabriel.

UNFCCC chief, Yvo de Boer, in a answer to a reporter, sometime during that night, a reporter who wanted to know why he said that the discussions made clear progress because everybody realizes that they will lose if the COP collapses without a document, and that there will be an agreement -“Does this include the United States?” He answered – “Exactly the United States.”

And that is it! The US thought once that it can posture at home because it has power overseas – but neigh – those days are over, because Washington is now totally dependent on goodwill from those “overseas” in order to have a modicum of sway with its own citizens.

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