Groundwork Laid for Bali Global Climate Talks

BOGOR/DENPASAR ~ Ministers and officials from 40 nations who met in Indonesia are prepared to launch talks on a post-2012 climate change regime this year, a UN official said.

Two days of informal talks were held last week in Bogor, just outside Jakarta, aimed at setting the stage for global climate change talks in Bali in December.

Yvo de Boer, secretary general of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said that “negotiators are ready to begin serious negotiations in Bali to develop a post-2012 climate change regime.”

“In that sense alone I think this meeting has been a very important success,” he said, speaking at a press briefing at the conclusion of the talks attended by countries including Australia, China, India and the United States.

The December 3 to 14 summit aims to secure the agreement of nations to come to the table for negotiations on some kind of regime to combat climate change when the current phase of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.

If this can be achieved, they may also map out plans for talks over the next few years.

“The meeting agreed that negotiations need to be launched in Bali on the basis of a shared vision of the long-term goal that we are working towards, on a long-term goal that can be an answer to what the scientific community is telling us,” de Boer said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono opened the talks with a call for developed nations to take the lead in fighting climate change, but he also said developing nations should step up their efforts.

Participants agreed that industrialized nations should be leading the charge to cut greenhouse gas emissions, de Boer said.

“But at the same time, there was also an agreement that we have to have a broader engagement of developing countries on this issue as well, otherwise we will never be able to address this global challenge in a meaningful way.”

The overriding concern of developing countries attending the talks was economic growth and poverty eradication, he said.

“Therefore, a future regime has to put in place incentives that allow developing countries to act on climate change while safeguarding their economic growth and allowing them to eradicate poverty,” the official said.

Participants indicated that the talks would need to be wrapped up by 2009 to allow enough time for ratification of any final agreement by governments and its coming into force before Kyoto’s current period ends.

De Boer said that Australia and the United States – neither of which have ratified the Kyoto Protocol – “both indicated that they were willing to take on commitments under a future climate change regime” during the meeting.

But he said long discussions would have to happen well beyond the Bali summit “in terms of what ‘commitments’ actually means – what countries will do and whether that will be internationally legally binding or not.”

Australia and the United States have said they will press for a new regime that provides for “effective action from all the major emitting nations.”

They rejected Kyoto on the grounds that it did not commit developing countries to the same sort of emissions cuts as industrialized nations.

More than 100 ministers are expected to attend the Bali summit.

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