Dispatch from Bali: Week 2

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

In the second and final week of climate talks here in Bali, wisps and patches of a larger fabric are beginning to appear.

An informal non-group, with unofficial non-co-chairs from South Africa and Australia, has given birth semi-anonymously to a text which issued from an informal non-meeting and has been widely circulated as a non-paper. It addresses tentatively, with conflicting opinions on some key points, the major open issues facing this conference. These include the touchy questions of what the developing countries should be expected to do, and how to advance the talks on incorporating deforestation into the broader climate framework from which they were excluded a decade ago.

All of this is offered under the rubric of defining the negotiations that must go forward between now and winter 2009, the widely accepted deadline for a successor agreement to Kyoto. Therefore the overall character of this paper is not earthshaking. But it’s a start. We and the NGO community at large will be working to improve the paper, and to push those countries who are non-supportive. At this point, the only two countries seen as visibly and loudly non-supportive are Malaysia and Saudi Arabia – an odd couple if there ever was one. But there is plenty of time left for some of the larger players who are holding back – including the U.S. and India – to show a clearer hand.

Sen. John Kerry arrived Sunday, the only one of a promised group of senior U.S. Members of Congress scheduled to come who did not cancel. He has been studious, constructive, and an excellent messenger of the solid political progress on climate change in the U.S. He made clear that he holds a special warmth for Environmental Defense, and asked me to pass on personal greetings to our president, Fred Krupp.

News from the U.S. Congress continues to reverberate. See our OpEd in the Jakarta Post for details.

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