Vital UN climate negotiations start in Bali

Two weeks is long enough to get the job done

Feature story - December 3, 2007
It’s said that a week is a long time in politics. The burning question is whether two weeks is long enough for governments to finally wake up, smell the carbon and confront the biggest problem facing the world. Yes, says Greenpeace. Absolutely.

Nusa Dua, BALI INDONESIA, A Polar bear unveils Greenpeace's giant 6.7 metre thermometer with the message "Don't Cook The Climate!" at the opening of UN Climate Change conference in Bali, Indonesia. The thermometer warns delegates that global temperature rise must be kept as far below 2 degrees Celcius as possible in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The UN conference runs 3 - 14 December

Here it is plain and simple: stop bickering. Put aside your differences. Come up with a crystal-clear mandate so negotiators can go full-bore over the next two years to agree deep cuts in global warming pollution. And make sure that the long-neglected issue of ending deforestation is firmly in the mix.

Real action for the climate

For years, governments have let us, their citizens, down by failing to get to grips with the problem. They've left us increasingly exposed to the biggest threat that civilisation has ever faced. Before things get totally out of hand, governments have to knuckle down to business in Bali and act on the basis of the alarming scientific findings about climate change that they themselves approved at the IPCC meeting only a few weeks ago. They agreed that climate change can be beaten using means already at our disposal or just around the corner. So let's finally see some real action for the climate.

Without serious cuts in global warming pollution, the future will be more frightening and insecure than we can imagine. And it's no longer the dim and distant future we're talking about. We are into the realm of IMTO - "In My Term of Office". One government - in Australia - has already been thrown out partly because it consistently stonewalled on climate.

Now major global corporations are at long last viewing action against climate change as a growth opportunity and calling for legally-binding commitments. It's the secure framework they need to put big bucks into solutions, even if many companies have still to put their own house in order.

Two weeks is a short time for a political turn-round. But it can be done. Although not a single gram of carbon will be cut nor a single sapling saved as a direct result of Bali - for these are talks about talks - without agreement there governments may well have lost the opportunity of ever putting the brakes on climate change.

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