Bali Roadmap rough and risky but with some signposts for safety Media Release

Dec 17, 2007 - 6:29am

The Bali Mandate is a “rough and risky roadmap” according to The Climate Institute, but a last minute deal, with important contributions from Australia, snatched an important victory from the jaws of defeat by including reference to 2020 and 2050 scientific based targets to guide the development and negotiation of post 2012 targets over the next two years.

“The Bali Mandate is a rough and risky roadmap skirting some very dangerous territory, but has some signposts to safety for the future of our planet and our children,” said John Connor, Chief Executive, The Climate Institute.

The Bali Mandate contains two important paths, one which enhances the UN Climate Change Convention by setting a course for “long term cooperative action”. This, for the first time, has developing countries committing to preparation of mitigation actions, supported by technology and financing, in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner.  The US played a role in weakening the requirements for developed countries to measurable actions including “quantifiable emission limitation and reduction objectives”, (i.e not necessarily even greenhouse pollution reduction targets).  This path also included processes to identify ways to reduce emissions from deforestation and to improve action on adaptation to the unavoidable impacts of climate change already underway.

Despite a recognition that delaying reducing emissions risks more severe climate change impacts and that deep cuts in global emissions are required to avoid dangerous climate change, the final text for this path failed to refer to the 2020 and 2050 science backed targets that had been at the centre of negotiations over the previous two weeks.

“The text for the long term pathway relegated to a footnote the science so exhaustively prepared by the world’s top climate experts and abandoned a focus on the lowest emission scenario assessed to be able to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change.  Instead it referred to all scenarios assessed, from a two degree global warming to a planetary meltdown scenario of more than six degrees warming above pre-industrial levels,” said Mr Connor.

“Hopes that the Bali Mandate would have an explicit focus on 2020 and 2050 targets appeared dashed, but in the path for establishing post 2012 targets for developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol, now including Australia, onlookers were stunned as they came back into play.”  

Early opposition from Canada and Russia evaporated and Australia ended two weeks of speculation by ‘”strongly supporting” the non-binding but signpost reference to the IPCC science backed targets of developed nations as a group reducing pollution by 25 – 40% by 2020 and an at least 50 percent reduction in global greenhouse pollution by 2050.

“Australia is to be congratulated for an important constructive role in the final days of the conference and its timely and important contribution backing the 2020 and 2050 targets which provide an important reference point for those developed countries, like Australia, preparing national targets over the next two years,” said Mr Connor.  “As the developed country with most at risk from climate change it was vital that other countries establish their targets well informed by the science.”

“The contribution of the Coalition opposition giving the green light to these non-binding but influential targets should also be recognised. While the Coalition still has some way to go to improve their policies, it was an important step towards a more mature debate on climate policy in Australia which gave heart to many observers in other countries such as the US where the debate has been stalled,” concluded Mr Connor.

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