Bali media update Media Release

Dec 07, 2007 - 9:07am

As a tumultuous first week draws to a close hopes for a Bali mandate that will help avoid dangerous climate change, hang in the balance.  The role that Australia plays in the coming week will be critical.

Australia rightfully received standing ovations as it ratified Kyoto but then entered the difficult negotiations on a Bali Mandate that will provide crucial guidance to the post 2012 agreement.

Australia supporting a Bali Mandate including a negotiating range of emissions reductions for developed countries of an aggregate 25 – 40% by 2020 from 1990 levels, would take this leadership to an important new level.

This is not a domestic emission reduction target. In the Kyoto first commitment period, industrialised countries overall (or in aggregate) had an emission reduction target of a 5% reduction below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. Australia ended up with an 8% increase. The range of 2020 targets being discussed in Bali is seeking to define what this overall target for industrialised countries will be in 2020. It is not a range of possible domestic emission reduction targets for industrialised countries.

Every major negotiating bloc, except the Umbrella Group, supports this negotiating range. This includes the EU and the developing countries (G77/China).  Despite their membership of the  Umbrella Group, New Zealand, Norway and Iceland also support this negotiating range. Japan, Canada and the USA are currently the only hold outs and Australia’s position is unclear.

A Bali Mandate that includes a 25-40% reduction for developed countries does not pre-empt the Garnaut and Treasury review processes for Australia’s domestic target. What domestic target Australia may undertake is not the decision at hand for Australia. This will be negotiated over the next two years based on the kinds of analysis being undertaken in Australia.

Australia's decision is whether or not they will support a clear mandate from Bali that includes the need for industrialised countries as a whole to reduce emissions by 25-40% by 2020. These kinds of reductions are required to give the world any chance of avoiding dangerous climate change.

Critically, China and some other large developing countries are showing leadership and a willingness to accept binding obligations to slow their emissions growth. This will not occur unless developed countries accept the need to negotiate strong emission reduction targets. They have offered an olive branch and Australia needs to accept it to build the bridge to a Bali Mandate to puts the world on a path to avoid dangerous global warming of more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

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