Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bali: agreement, but no numbers

News broadcasts on French TV have focussed on a handful of dramatic images of the Bali conference on global warming. First and foremost, we've watched the extraordinary video excerpt showing Al Gore daring to call a spade a spade by criticizing explicitly the stubbornness of his mother country. Then, at the height of the standoff between the USA and the rest of the world, we saw the conference leader Yvo de Boer breaking down under the strain, and fleeing the podium in tears. We admired the Papua New Guinea delegate Kevin Conrad politely advising Washington's Paula Dobriansky, if she didn't want her nation to tackle climate change, to "get out of the way". And we witnessed the once-defiant American lady finally bowing down to planetary democracy. Finally, we saw an explosion of joy and relief.

The agreed-upon roadmap is timid. It's better than nothing, but without projected statistics on cuts in emissions that Europe would have liked to have seen in the final Bali text. The tone of a joint statement by Greenpeace France, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation and the Action Climat-France Network is one of disappointment: "The scientific consensus is reduced [in the Bali roadmap] to a page note that refers to a chart stating that each nation can choose its preferred scenario. [...] The Bali roadmap accepts the risk of a three-degree Celsius rise in temperature, upheaving ecosystems in an irreversible manner, and resulting in hundreds of millions of climate refugees."

Personally, I too was rather disappointed by the lukewarm performance at Bali of my Australian compatriots Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong, not to mention Peter Garrett, who were neither heroes, ecological evangelists nor even impressive speakers in the Al Gore style. Their fighting style and persuasive talents, in this planetary arena, can hardly be described as globally warming.

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