Sparks fly in Bali - but will it be enough to ignite the global community against climate change?

Feature story - 14 December, 2007
Into the final day of the UN climate talks… Will Bali deliver a roadmap for a secure future, or will it be a fudge or even a failure?

Don't Cook the Climate - a polar bear sends a vital message to delegates of the UN Climate Change conference in Bali, Indonesia. (C) Greenpeace/Rante 2007

Gore goes full bore

Addressing a packed side event at the Bali climate conference, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore, urged delegates to raise their level of ambition, saying that, "The maximum now considered possible is the minimum and falls far short of what we need."

He tore into the United States for the blocking role the Bush Administration is playing in Bali.

Gore reminded delegates, jaded by nearly two weeks of wrangling with text, that change will come. And in a reference to how the recent Australian election had overturned that government's stance on the current Kyoto Protocol and with an eye to next year's US Presidential election he said, "Over the next two years, the United States is going to be somewhere it isn't right now."

But Bali is now. Gore urged delegates to negotiate around the US - the "elephant in the room" as he called it - and reminded his audience that they have in their hands "the destiny of all generations to come."

In a speech laden with quotable quotes, his final reference was to the ingredient that has so far been lacking in Bali, namely political will. Gore says political will is a "renewable resource". That's right: if you don't use it, you lose it.

Europe finally showing some grit

Hours before Gore spoke, France's Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo threatened to withdraw from hosting a meeting of the Major Emitters - a process for 'doing whatever takes your fancy' on climate - which the US has set up to try and supplant Kyoto. In a heated meeting with Paula Dobriansky, head of the US delegation, Borloo said they could all forget a trip to Paris unless the US came to the table with a Kyoto-style proposal with binding commitments to cut global warming pollution.

Portugal, which currently occupies the revolving Presidency of the European Union, rammed home the same message during a press conference.

‘Advance Australia Fair’?

Australia is ratifying Kyoto. So why is it still one of the Bali bad guys opposing real action to cut emissions? An opinion poll we commissioned shows overwhelming support among Australians for Kevin Rudd, the new Aussie premier, to go further in the next three years by cutting the country's greenhouse gas emissions and phasing out electricity generation from coal-fired power stations.

The survey, conducted by Newspoll, found that 86 percent of Australians want Rudd to put in place new policies to cut emissions.

Mr. Rudd, it looks like you have a mandate!

2007 is seventh warmest year

Data also released today by the UK's Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia shows that 2007 confirms the warming trend, confirming the need for swift action. Globally, 2007 has been the seventh warmest year since 1850, despite the moderating effect of 2007's La Nina event.

The Centre's head of climate prediction said the data confirms "the need for swift action to combat further rises in global temperatures."

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