Friday, December 14, 2007

Bali meeting a 'road map' for Copenhagen

Sarah Clarke

ABC news

As negotiations intensify in the final stages of the Bali climate change conference, Australia and the US are coming under more pressure not to water down the declaration.

The United Nations is urging countries to sign a declaration that specifies that developed nations support a cut in their emissions of between 25 and 40 per cent by 2020.

But the United States is trying to remove any mention of a target.

And while the Australian delegation is also refusing to sign on to the target, scientist and Australian of the Year Tim Flannery says he will not be disappointed if the specific target is removed.

"The role of this meeting was to agree a road map out to December 2009 in Copenhagen when by that stage, we will have needed to agree the basic building blocks of the new treaty, and they include targets," he said.

The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that at the rate we are going, we are looking at two degrees Celsius increase in temperatures.

"Clearly not enough action's been taken to date to address that," he added.

"Emissions are growing year by year, the threat is growing year by year, but these negotiations are never easy. We're dealing here with the most difficult negotiations I think humanity has ever embarked upon."

Dr Flannery says some countries are not yet ready to move, and believes the best outcome can be achieved by taking a measured, step-by-step approach towards 2009.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said he is waiting for the Ross Garnaut report before he makes any commitment to short-term targets.

Dr Flannery says the Rudd Government's approach is cause for enormous optimism.

"As a bridge between the US and the Europeans and the Chinese, he can play a leading role globally in this, which is so much more important than waiting six months to decide precisely what the target's going to be," he said.

Interim targets

Dr Flannery says it is imperative for Australia to make short-term interim targets to meet the 25 to 40 per cent global level by 2020.

"Globally, we need to have emissions peak within about seven years and then 40 years from now we need to be living in what are effectively decarbonised economies," he said.

"That means we won't be burning coal conventionally anymore, won't be using petrol and oil as we use it now and probably with a greatly reduced dependency on gas.

"That is a massive, massive undertaking. This is really a new industrial revolution that we're going to see develop. So it's a big job, but I think for the first time ever, we've got the basic conditions right."

He says much of the work done over the last 12 months in the area of climate change, in which a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award have been won for work in the field, has helped to lay the foundations for future action.

But Dr Flannery warns that any contributions made by the US will be to be on its terms.

"We can't do anything with America. They have to be there and what that means in reality is that we need to keep a broad enough pathway open to allow the Americans to be part of this ongoing process," he said.

"They face difficulties, it's a much more cumbersome political system than we have in Australia and many places elsewhere. Changes take time."

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