The UN climate change conference in Bali ended dramatically in December with the US staging a last-minute turnaround to join nearly 190 other countries to sign off on an agreement to create a “roadmap” to fight climate change by 2009.
The US, led in Bali by Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, changed tack in the closing hours of the conference after criticism from other delegates. The US and China, the world’s top two carbon emitters, were focal points of the two-week talks.
The new agreement says that a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, must be created through talks over the next two years.
The roadmap shifts more responsibility for climate change to developing countries, mandating that they must take “measurable, reportable and verifiable” action against climate change. However, it deliberately left vague the definition of the term “action.”
Under the Kyoto Protocol, 37 industrialized countries were subjected to emissions caps. China, India and other developing countries, as well as the US, oppose defined caps.
However, scientists say that any emissions cuts made by rich countries will be more than offset by the increase in emissions from developing states like China.
The Bali agreement therefore also requires developed countries to find ways to transfer clean technologies to poorer counterparts; an initiative that was backed by China, India and the EU.