Bali Roadmap: US Already Skeptical, Future Uncertain

by Gopalan on  December 17, 2007 at 12:07 PM Health In Focus
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Even before the ink is dry on the so-called historic agreement at Bali on a roadmap on greenhouse gas emissions, the US has voiced its concerns.

The deal agreed upon does not bind developing economies like China and India to strong commitments, the White House complains.
Bali Roadmap: US Already Skeptical, Future Uncertain
Bali Roadmap: US Already Skeptical, Future Uncertain

That is some response to those who have got excited by the roadmap, hailing it as historic and saying that the fact the US has come on board is itself is a major step forward.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said in a statement Sunday the new climate deal to be negotiated over the next two years needed to do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the major developing countries.

The Bali conference was deadlocked for more than two days over the terms of commitments required by developed and developing countries to tackle climate change.

In the end, the Bali Roadmap, which will frame two years of negotiations on a post-Kyoto climate accord, says rich countries will be required to make measurable commitments or actions to cut emissions.

While developing countries do not need to commit to quantified targets, they will be required to take measurable and verifiable actions that are 'in the context of sustainable development, supported by technology and enabled by financing and capacity-building'.

Thus China's rapid economic growth will make it the biggest single greenhouse gas emitting country in the world by the end of the decade. The International Energy Agency predicts developing countries will account for three-quarters of the increase in global greenhouse gases by 2030.

On the other hand, it is also contended that although developing nations will not have to make the same binding emissions cuts as developed nations, they have recognised the need to tackle climate change. And unlike in the case of the Kyoto Protocol,they will now be part of the next global pact. That is a matter of satisfaction, say supporters of the new roadmap.

Still legitimate concerns remain. The White House seeks to make use of precisely such concerns to justify its own reluctance to bind itself to any quantifiable target.

The Bali deal does include important progress on slowing deforestation, exchange of clean energy technologies and the creation of a fund to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

But critics note that developing countries gained less access to clean technology than they asked for. Still there are various multilateral and bilateral deals outside the UN climate framework that may be more relevant in this area anyway, it is argued.

what about protecting the poorest nations than? Like the emissions goals, money for adaptation is largely theoretical at this stage.

The roadmap talks big about expanding the Kyoto mechanisms designed to leverage money from international carbon trading to pay for sea walls, fresh water infrastructure, new crop varieties, mosquito nets and whatever else may be needed as the world warms and rainfall patterns change.

The fact remains though that the funding is not sufficient - nor is it clear that it will be. Efforts to help Africa 'has centred more on seminars and workshops rather than demonstrable pilot projects,' Nigeria's Environment Minister Halima Tayo Alao told delegates.
The forests agreement also fits into the 'pending' file. Though opening up the principle of rewarding poorer countries for protecting their carbon-storing trees, much remains to be worked through, inside and outside the UN process, before the dollars, euros and yen begin to flow.

It is not without coincidence that the White House has also indicated that it could ask for different terms for poor countries based on the size of their economy and the scale of their emissions.

'The negotiations must adequately distinguish among developing countries by recognising that the responsibilities of the smaller or least developed countries are different from the larger, more advanced developing countries,' the US statement said.

'In our view, such smaller and less-developed countries are entitled to receive more differentiated treatment so as to more truly reflect their special needs and circumstances,' the White House says. A strategy that could create a wedge in the Group of 77 bloc of developing countries. So much for its coming on board!

Source: Medindia

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