Bali Bulletin: Horns Are Blaring

Peter GoldmarkThis post is by Peter Goldmark, Program Director, Climate and Air, Environmental Defense. Also see his previous dispatch from Bali

The ministers have arrived – environmental ministers, energy ministers, finance ministers, ministers ordinary and plenipotentiary, and ministers who will one day wind up in the penitentiary. They are driving to and fro in limos with police escorts, blaring their horns at those of us on bicycles.

What this means is that we are entering the last 72 hours of the conference. The nights are getting longer, and the strokes shorter.

But measured even against the background experience that large international conferences frequently undergo a moment of dark despair before dawn brings some sort of last-minute agreement, the last two nights of discord have been dismaying.

The shreds and wisps constituting the "non-paper" I wrote about in my last dispatch frayed significantly. The U.S. has been saying no to any target number, anytime, anywhere. By Wednesday noon, the draft phrase proposed for what might potentially be discussed re developing countries taking action on global warming was reduced to "measurable and reportable national mitigation actions by developing country Parties in the context of sustainable development."

Pretty thin gruel, since this is all part of a non-binding discussion agenda. There will be a new draft text before the day is out today, and it will be instructive to see if that text reflects progress as a result of higher level input from the new senior arrivals.

Mayor Bloomberg of New York City is here, and we will host a private luncheon for him and some key leaders from around the world. Al Gore got in last night, but has not surfaced as of early this morning.

Passing observations:

  • Suspicion was voiced by a couple of Indian NGO leaders here that India may be playing footsie with the U.S. in blocking progress on key substantive issues.
  • The more signs of progress there were in the RED (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation) working group, the more objections from the U.S. seemed to increase. The U.S. has opposed caps at every international meeting and talked about the importance of technology as the only way forward on global warming. But every time the developing countries here press for technology transfer provisions and negotiations, the U.S. opposes it.
  • There is a bad-guy award, called "the Fossil", given every day here by the NGOs to a country whose obstructionism is particularly dramatic or mischievous. If there were a good-guy award, a logical nominee would be Mexico, which has been way out in front of its southern colleagues in recognizing that the South, as well as the North, must address what is a common threat. Mexico has tried to define some middle ground for all with considered, practical proposals.
  • During a thoughtful review yesterday, with many different kinds of people from many different sectors and countries, I noticed that all of them – without exception – accepted that deforestation belonged on the agenda. And that made me recall the huge campaign, started from nowhere, that Environmental Defense launched at the Montreal meeting two years ago to slip deforestation onto the agenda for the first time. (It had been removed from the agenda a decade earlier and stayed off ever since.) And that made me think about how much we owe to the time and intensity Annie Petsonk has devoted over the years to leading these delegations and managing our field resources with her exquisite blend of intensity and agility. She is not here this year, and we feel the absence every day.

On the walkways at our hotel in the morning there are little frogs, no bigger than half your thumbnail, who hop around aimlessly as you approach. Not having fully internalized all the wildlife tutorials Mary Kelly has patiently given me, I don’t know a lot about Balinese froglets (and froglettes), so I tend to read into their behavior more than is warranted, I am sure.

They hop around in no particular direction, and some of them seem quite far, for such a little animal, from the wetter areas near the hotel pool where I assume they came from. The pavement warms up as the day gets hotter, and they seem to jump a little more sluggishly then – still in circles. They seem very intent on hopping, and very vulnerable. And for those who get way out on the walkway as the sun heats it up, the long-term future seems a little problematic to me.

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  1. rjw01
    Posted December 14, 2007 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    ????? What was the reaction to:

    Moderator’s Note: The article quoted below is from “The Inhofe EPW Press Blog“. Posted By Marc Morano – Marc_Morano@EPW.Senate.Gov – 1:05 PM ET, 13-Dec-07

    BALI, Indonesia – The UN climate conference met strong opposition Thursday from a team of over 100 prominent international scientists, who warned the UN, that attempting to control the Earth’s climate was “ultimately futile.”

    The scientists, many of whom are current and former UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) scientists, sent an open letter to the UN Secretary-General questioning the scientific basis for climate fears and the UN’s so-called “solutions.”

    “Attempts to prevent global climate change from occurring are ultimately futile, and constitute a tragic misallocation of resources that would be better spent on humanity’s real and pressing problems,” the letter signed by the scientists read. The December 13 letter was released to the public late Thursday. (LINK)

    The letter was signed by renowned scientists such as Dr. Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists; Dr. Reid Bryson, dubbed the “Father of Meteorology”; Atmospheric pioneer Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, formerly of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute; Award winning physicist Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu of the International Arctic Research Center, who has twice named one of the “1000 Most Cited Scientists”; MIT atmospheric scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen; UN scientist Dr. Vincent Gray of New Zealand; French climatologist Dr. Marcel Leroux of the University Jean Moulin; World authority on sea level Dr. Nils-Axel Morner of Stockholm University; Physicist Dr. Freeman Dyson of Princeton University; Physicist Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski, chairman of the Scientific Council of Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Poland; Paleoclimatologist Dr. Robert M. Carter of Australia; Former UN IPCC reviewer Geologist/Geochemist Dr. Tom V. Segalstad, head of the Geological Museum in Norway; and Dr. Edward J. Wegman, of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

    “It is not possible to stop climate change, a natural phenomenon that has affected humanity through the ages. Geological, archaeological, oral and written histories all attest to the dramatic challenges posed to past societies from unanticipated changes in temperature, precipitation, winds and other climatic variables,” the scientists wrote.

    “In stark contrast to the often repeated assertion that the science of climate change is ‘settled,’ significant new peer-reviewed research has cast even more doubt on the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused global warming,” the open letter added.

  2. bd4545
    Posted December 14, 2007 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    What was the response?

    UN official Barbara Black interrupted the press conference and demanded the scientists immediately cease. She threatened to have the police physically remove them from the premises. In addition International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) scientists have been prevented from participating in panel discussions, side events, and exhibits.

  3. rkcannon
    Posted December 15, 2007 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Wow what is going on here? Wake up folks. The UN is trying to gain control of the world or something. WE CANNOT CONTROL THE CLIMATE! WE DO NOT AFFECT THE CLIMATE SIGNIFICANTLY.

  4. Posted December 17, 2007 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Re bd4545’s comment…

    The ICSC is a group of climate change skeptics. I don’t know the details of what happened with them in Bali. I asked Peter, but he didn’t see it.

  5. Posted February 13, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Your RSS feed doesn’t work in my browser (google chrome) how can I fix it?

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