December 09, 2007

Focus on Climate Change: Bali Conference

Der Spiegel has a great article on the Bali Conference that talks about the conference goals and what the attendees plan to cover in their efforts to come with an even more ambitious global treaty than the Kyoto treaty which is due to expire in 2012.

The starting point for the conference is the recognition that the situation is even worse than what was stated in the spring IPCC report because the panel now finds they had underestimated how fast greenhouse gases were accumulating in the atmosphere. This means that there is a very short window for the world to act. Thus, many of the attendees have a sense of urgency and feel a responsibility for ironing out something that will work. (Too bad this group does not include our own government, but perhaps next year when we have a new administration we can catch up with the rest of the world. Meanwhile it is our job to make sure the next administration is ready to jump on this problem.)

The agenda for the conference covers:

  • Timeline: for the conference and for getting the treaty in place and radified

  • Mitigation: how much to reduce emissions for the rich countries and for this round include the developing economies in the targets

  • Adaptation: what needs to be done to help those countries and people that will suffer from the climate change already appearing

  • Technology: could the richer countries help developing countries with more technology - such as technology that could help track their emissions. (Aside: what seems strange is that the technology that might be the biggest help: solar, wind, efficiency, etc., wasn't listed. Why not?)

  • Deforestation: there's an increasing recognition that the developing world has no real incentive to not cut their tropical forests and many incentives to cut, so there needs to be something that allows them to prevent deforestation because deforestation is an ever increasing part of the increase in carbon emissions.

  • Carbon Trading: now that Europe has a functioning carbon market, the there is desire to see if this market can be extended to the rest of the world.

    The United Nations is encouraging the expansion of that model into an international market. If such a market were implemented as fully as it has been in Europe, said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary to the UNFCCC, an international market of trade between rich and poor nations might be worth over $100 billion per year.

    "That would offer rich countries the choice of reducing emissions at home or implementing a project in a developing country," said de Boer. "Often reducing emissions in developing countries is a lot cheaper."

Comment: perhaps some of these goals could be combined to make it easier for the developing world to have a healthy economy while doing it on low emissions. Providing (subsidizing) technology that focuses on efficiency and clean energy (allowing better living standards with less toxic carbon-based energy) and pricing the value of forests though a carbon market that made it as valuable or even more valuable to the world than oil or coal would go a long way to helping the developing world have the funds to make the lives of their citizens better and also providing them more ability to help adapt to the changing world.

Finally, every time someone talks about how expensive it would to solve the global warming problem, there are really only two points: 1) We can't afford not to solve this problem; and 2) it is cheaper to use less energy than it is to create that energy and clean energy is truly renewable - once you've invested in the wind farms and solar arrays, they keep on giving and giving and giving. Their fuel is free. A major part of the answer truly is efficiency and clean, renewable energy. Another part of the answer is we must place a high value on fairness and justice if we are to engage the world on this quest to save our only home.

Posted by Mary at December 9, 2007 03:06 PM | Environment | Technorati links |