US Finally Agrees to Climate Change Deal in Bali

by , 12/17/07

Bali, Climate Change, International Global Warming talks, global warming talks, international climate summit

Over a dramatic rollercoaster ride of ups and downs at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, the United States has finally accepted a global agreement to work towards reducing carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. As expected, the White House initially rejected the agreement, but after the conference got pushed into overtime, and after facing intense booing and protests from other delegations, the White House was finally convinced to accept a compromise and sign the deal. Delegates from 187 countries agreed last Saturday to negotiate a new international agreement over the next two years, which (not so coincidentally) extends the debate into a new US presidential term.

The “Bali Action Plan” is nonbinding and asserts that “deep cuts in global emissions will be required” over the next two years, building off of the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol. The United States initially opposed the idea, stating that the negotiations must “clearly differentiate” and link responsibility with the level of emissions, size of the economy, and energy use among developing countries. While talks were set to end Friday, they spilled over to Saturday, when the US accepted a compromise that would aim to reduce carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.

Via CNN and NPR.

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  1. Barbara December 21, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    As the developed nations are outsorcing their “dirty” industries to the developing countries because of price advantages resulting from the lack of environmental regulations in these countries, it should be the responsibility of the developed country (USA, Canada, EU and so on ) to clean up the mess they produced. Who when not them have the know-how and the financial means to do it? The developings countries even struggle to feed their people, does the US really expect them to be leaders regarding the environment?Governmental leadership is important to bring change quickly (although quickly is really relative here). The private market fails to solve the problem because there are too many externalities involved. Another key issue would be environmental education because, for the consumer to make educated choices, you need to have information, and to be able to find information you need education! What can you expect from a population when on page 2 and 3 of the most read newspaper in a city of 500.000 (where I live) you read about sports and college football. There was not a single mentioning of the Bali Conference.
    In Europe we have as good examples Germany and Austria with strict environmental regulations AND tax or other incentives for consumer and companies to act accordingly. These regulations and incentive system forced private companies to adept and refocus and it made them more successful and it made the consumer more environmentally conscious. I agree with Nick that the vast majority of the population won’t change their lifestyles unless they need to.The US needs leadership with VISION to keep up with Europe and not one that does only protect the status quo. The status quo is obsolete.

  2. Nick Simpson December 20, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Wow Taoist. You based your argument on an article titled “George Bush, climate-change hero”… Nice…

    If you honestly believe that the current US government has any intention of helping to avoid climate change you’re living in cloud cuckoo land. Bush isn’t for or against reducing CO2 levels etc, he just doesn’t care either way and will do whatever is cheapest and easiest (ie the status quo). The reason your CO2 levels are levelling out is because your heavy industry is collapsing or being shipped off to China, nothing more than that.

    From studies I’m doing at the moment I can tell you that government leadership is hugely important. Put simply, the vast majority of the population, as good-willed as they may be, won’t change their lifestyle choices unless they need to. They have other things to worry about, such as how little Timmy is doing at school, what they’re getting little Alice for her birthday and whether they stand a chance of getting that promotion. You’re right, sometimes government interference is a bad thing, but this isn’t one of these times. Your average man or woman in the street is not going to go green to the level we need them to without a lot of pushing and/or encouragement…

  3. taoist December 19, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Nick: Just because the U.S. isn’t implementing government controls of emissions doesn’t mean its not taking things seriously. The U.S. is in fact one of the few countries that actually has succeeded in starting to get a grip on things. Sometimes (most of the time actually) government interference is a bad thing.

  4. Jorge December 19, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    It was pretty disheartening to see how the United States and Canada were quite irresponsibly doing their best to block any sort of future agreement with strict emissions targets. This was a very specific case where it really was the US and Canada pretty much blocking everything without any rime nor reason.

    Now as for the talks themselves, there was progress made, believe it or not, just not as much as one would’ve hoped. The big ticket item was the emission targets, on which the final agreement was, believe it or not, that the agreement would be reached as soon as Bush left office. Granted not in those words, but certainly close enough. And from my limited understanding, the overall result was actually a bit more successful than what the media led most of us to believe. Just not as good as it could have been.

  5. Nick Simpson December 19, 2007 at 6:30 am

    Why has this story, possibly the most important featured on Inhabitat for months if not since its creation, only got 6 posts (which would be 4 if I hadn’t double posted twice), and a story about the Smart car has 36?! The green movement obviously has a long way to go…

  6. Michael December 18, 2007 at 1:42 am

    One of the key arguments coming out of the recent technical literature and debate is the legacy effects of previous emissions from leading polluters – contries such as the US, Canada, Australia, Japan etc….. The effects of these ‘legacy’ emissions will be felt long before the future emissions from developing nations come into the equation.

    Therefore the developed nations ALREADY HAVE the responsibility to clean up their own backyards, before demanding others do the same. Funny how these same develoed nations as the historic big emitters don’t want to acknowledge this existing responsibility. I agree that these reluctant developed nations should be ashamed of their lacklustre approach – it’s near on impossible to lead from the front when your approach is to stare at your feet and try and apportion blame where there is none.

    My only hope is that now the US has been left even more out in the cold (the warmth?) by Australia FINALLY coming to the table, that our new PM is able to exert pressure our previous leader was unwilling to apply.

    One planet – one solution – get on with it.

  7. Nick Simpson December 17, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    I should add though that many of these arguments, as you say, should be levelled just as strongly at Canada, Russia and Japan, each of whom have shown little or no willingness to make cuts.

  8. Nick Simpson December 17, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    The US hasn’t really made any serious attempt at controlling its emissions, they’re still going up and up (along with many countries, my own included). In terms of wealth transfer, I don’t know the fine detail of who proposed what, but the EU countries didn’t ask the US to do anything it wasn’t willing to do itself. Besides, this doesn’t explain why the key 2020 target had to be pulled, although the reason behind it is quite obvious.

    What really worries me is that with practically every presidential candidate around funded by the oil and automotive industries, the US will never climb out of their pocket. If they don’t, and fast, there’s going to be massive environmental damage on an incredible scale…

  9. taoist December 17, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    But on the other hand, Nick, a lot of what the critics have complained about has turned out to be true. China is now the biggest producer of greenhouse gases, and the U.S. has in fact done a better job controlling its own emissions than many of the signers of Kyoto – especially Canada. Not to mention that many of the activists and officials in Bali were openly advocating that wealth transfer was a key point that needed to be part of any agreement reached – which was the main complaint many in the U.S. had against Kyoto: it wasn’t about the environment nearly as much as it was about finding another way to siphon money from the U.S.

    I’m not saying the U.S. hasn’t done its share of impeding talks and agreements, it certainly has. But I think a large part of the problem is that the negotiators from many of the other countries go in with hidden agendas which aren’t about helping the environment at all.

  10. Nick Simpson December 17, 2007 at 11:50 am

    Sorry for being so angry in the earlier post, I’m not blaming all Americans, just the ones too interested in maintaining the status quo at all costs… Anyway, thanks Emily for covering the talks, this is the sort of thing that has the potential to make a massive impact. Just please don’t anyone think that decent progress was made in Bali, because it really wasn’t…

  11. Nick Simpson December 17, 2007 at 6:46 am

    The US should be hugely ashamed. Again. Because of them, a number of strongly worded aims and figures had to be removed, including the commitment for developed nations to reduce CO2 output by 25-40% by 2020… Now all we have is a “commitment” to making “deep cuts” in global emissions. No dates, no amounts. Except for the agreements on reducing/stopping deforestation in developing countries, Bali may as well of not happened.

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