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Bali Meeting

Light at the end of the tunnel

Climate Conference outlines map of the path for fighting global warming

eduardo cesarThe 13th Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia, held from December 3 to 14, 2007, revealed new prospects for a global agreement against the warming of the planet. After 15 tense days, representatives from 190 nations decided to negotiate a pact for the reduction of greenhouse gases. If everything works out, this will succeed the Kyoto Protocol. This understanding was only possible after the G-77 group (which brings together 133 developing nations) and China agreed to discuss adopting “measurable, reportable and verifiable” actions to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, thus opening a negotiation channel with the USA, which has continued to be against any type of understanding ever since the Protocol’s earliest days, back in 1997. The first meeting will be held in Ghana at the beginning of this year, and will culminate in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the end of 2009.

“It’s still too early to talk about failure or success,” stated Marina Silva, Brazil’s Environment Minister, in the program Pesquisa Brasil. At this meeting, a so-called path map was outlined: a document full of good intentions, with two paths that are meant to converge toward a global agreement. And here is where things become complicated. On one hand we have the developed countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol, and which therefore committed, ten years ago, to cutting down their emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2% between 2008 and 2012. Although UN estimates indicate that most of them are far from doing what they promised, the EU countries want the new covenant to expand the percentage of emission reductions to something between 25% and 40% by 2020. It was decided that the rich countries should transfer technology to poor countries to enable these nations to grow without increasing pollution on the planet. It was also agreed that an adaptation fund would be established, to be managed by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) – formed from a fee charged in carbon credit market transactions – to reduce the impact of global warming on nations, such as those in Africa.

Emerging economies
On the other side, we have the developing countries, which are free from any commitment to reduction, and the USA, which did not sign the Kyoto Protocol. In the new agreement, Brazil, India and China, for instance, which are three of the largest emitters, may have to undertake to cut their emissions through control of deforestation and of degradation, conservation, sustainable management, changes in the use of the soil and an increase in the stock of forest carbon. “We are willing to follow internal and verifiable targets,” said Marina Silva, who presented a proposal, in Bali, for a Fund for the Protection and Conservation of the Brazilian Amazon Region, which is to be officially launched this year. The fund, of a volunteer nature, will start up with some US$ 150 million, its operations being handled by BNDES, Brazil’s National Social and Economic Development Bank. The Norwegian government is expected to contribute US$ 100 million to the fund, which will be managed by a board of governors comprised of representatives from the federal and state governments, NGOs, companies and scientists, according to the InterPress Service (IPS) and Envolverde agencies.

The success of this course, according to experts, may depend on the upcoming US presidential elections at the end of this year. Contrary to George W. Bush, it is expected that the next president will commit to adopting measures against global warming. “In two years, the United States will be in a place where they are not at right now,” foresaw Al Gore, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with scientists from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in 2007. It remains to be seen whether the emerging economies will maintain, over the next two years, their willingness to invest in clean development. It is expected that the next two years will be underscored by intense diplomatic activity. The head of the work group that will conduct the negotiation will be minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, the director of the Environment Department at the Brazilian Foreign Office.