Row over 2020 emissions goal sours Bali climate talks

The European Union took a veiled swipe at the United States at climate talks in Bali on Tuesday over Washington’s efforts to remove tough 2020 emissions guidelines for rich nations from the draft text.

United Nations climate talks in Bali have become dominated by disputes about whether a final text, or Bali roadmap, should omit any reference to scientific evidence that rich nations should axe greenhouse gas emissions by 25% to 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.

Any watering down or outright removal of this non-binding range would anger developing nations, who are demanding rich nations do more to cut their own greenhouse gas emissions.

The row has overshadowed a separate finance ministers meeting in Bali and 10th anniversary celebrations for the Kyoto Protocol.

“I understand that it is still in the text,” EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told reporters in Bali.

“Of course it is crucial for the European Union, and not only for the European Union, in order to gather an effective fight against climate change we need this range of reductions for developed countries by 2020.”

“The EU set a target of 30% [by 2020] provided that other developed countries come along, or even more than 30% if it is necessary,” he said.

The Bali talks aim to bind all nations to greenhouse gas curbs from 2013 but poor nations want rich countries to do more before they agree. Negotiators are working hard on a formula to draw in the developing world, particularly India and China.

The United States called on the meeting on Monday to drop any reference to 2020 guidelines for rich nations, saying it would prejudge the outcome of negotiations.

Australia vague

Australia, whose new government ratified the Kyoto Protocol last week, was vague on whether it supported a 25% to 40% range as a starting point for discussions.

“Climate change is the global challenge of our generation,” Australia’s new Climate Change and Water Minister Penny Wong said on Tuesday in Bali.

But Wong refused to confirm if Australia supported the inclusion of what she called an interim emissions reduction target of 25% to 40% by 2020 in draft text.

“We are agreed with our friends in the EU and in other nations who say that we need an interim target. Australia agrees with that, but what we have done is we have put in place a process to determine what that target will be and how we propose to meet that.”

The government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, due in Bali later on Tuesday to make his debut on the world stage, has commissioned an analysis of various ranges of emissions targets.

“We need to put a guard rail around the negotiations for the next two years,” said Hans Verolme of the WWF environmental group.
He said the 25% to 40% range was needed for industrial nations to show they were committed to leading.

Finance ministers met in Bali on Tuesday to debate how to fund the fight against climate change, the first such meeting on the fringes of annual UN climate talks.

The finance ministers, from about 20 nations, will debate issues ranging from the potential for carbon markets to help cut industrial emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels to incentives for people to put solar panels on the roof at home.

“This is much too important to leave to environment ministers,” said Nicholas Stern, a former World Bank chief economist who wrote a report saying the costs of fighting climate change would be far smaller than those of ignoring the problem.

“This is about low-carbon growth, not low growth,” he said.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono told the ministers they should play a much larger and more active role in responding to climate change at home and abroad.

“Your deliberations today will enhance our understanding of how to integrate climate change into fiscal policies.”

And an Indian finance official said developing nations should be exempt from binding targets on greenhouse gases under any new global pact beyond 2012 after the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires.

Kyoto marks its 10th birthday on Tuesday—it was agreed in the Japanese city of the same name on December 11 1997. UN backers of the pact plan to celebrate with a birthday cake. - Reuters

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