What We're Doing in Bali Next Week

This post is by Kyle Meng, a research fellow at Environmental Defense.

Next week, delegates and negotiators from some 190 countries will descend on the Indonesian island of Bali to determine the fate of a global climate agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Continuing our long-standing presence at these negotiations, Environmental Defense is sending a team of experts to Bali. Here’s what we’ll be working on.

Three main topics will come up in Bali. The first is a series of discussions regarding what a new global climate deal would look like and how such an agreement can be struck. The Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first international climate treaty with binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions, is set to expire in 2012. To ensure that there is no gap between the two agreements, a post-Kyoto framework will need to be approved by the end of 2009. The task at hand in Bali is for the international community to launch a negotiations process that ensures a stronger, more effective agreement is completed in two years time.

This will be no small task. A significant political breakthrough will be needed if the next agreement is to effectively ward off dangerous climate change. At the center of this is the second main topic: the need to expand the mandatory carbon market established by the Kyoto Protocol. After just a few years in existence, the carbon market today is already worth some $30 billion in transactions. But to slow global warming, that market needs to be bigger, with significantly larger volumes of supply and demand and a lifetime much longer than four years. In the next global agreement, the global carbon market will have to expand participation to all developed countries, top-emitting developing countries, and emissions from tropical deforestation.

Tropical deforestation is especially appropriate to discuss in Bali. Indonesia surprises many with its ranking as the third-highest emitting country. That’s because its emissions from deforestation are five times greater than those from fossil fuel use. Globally, emissions from tropical deforestation account for roughly 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. To address this issue, Environmental Defense will advocate for compensated reductions [PDF] at Bali. This is a proposal we’ve developed with the Amazon Institute for Environmental Research (IPAM), the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) and an international group of scientists, to bring the benefits of the global carbon market to developing countries that have slowed rates of deforestation below a historic level. As a country whose ecosystems have been ravaged by deforestation, the Indonesian government will be keen to see that significant progress is made on this issue at Bali.

The final major headline that will be buzzing at Bali is news from an ocean away. We expect our Environmental Defense team to arrive in Bali with wind at our backs and historic news to share from our own government in Washington, D.C. America’s Climate Security Act (ACSA), the bill that is moving ahead in the Senate, is strong affirmation that the U.S. is ready to take on climate change and that the Bush administration does not represent America on this issue. These developments in Congress, together with the myriad of climate activities being implemented and considered at the state and regional levels, suggest that the U.S. is finally serious about the climate crisis and the need to address it. Our job will be to help communicate these latest developments at home with negotiators in Bali.

This U.N. forum is viewed by a majority of countries the best place to fully address the challenge of climate change. When the stars are aligned, we can make significant progress at these meetings. At Bali, negotiators will have the opportunity to create a framework for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol that is strong enough to meet the climate challenge at hand.

I’m excited to be on the Environmental Defense team that will be there — pushing, urging, challenging, and reasoning with the world’s decision-makers.

This entry was posted in International. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.