Bali agreement offers no certainty for business

The business world is still in the dark about the impact of a post-2012 agreement on carbon emissions following the conclusion of the Bali Conference.

That was the message from business leaders and climate change experts who gathered in London on Tuesday to assess the impact of the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2007, which ended last week.

All nations at the two-week conference agreed for the first time to work together to hammer out a deal for reducing carbon emissions after the Kyoto treaty ends, but did not agree any targets.

However, a panel of experts at the Bali Business Briefing on Tuesday argued that setting targets was not the aim of the discussions.

Simon Retallack, head of the climate change team at the Institute for Public Policy Research, said: “Bali was never about targets for developed or developing countries.

“What was achieved in Bali is that all countries will be involved in discussions. That was not something that you could have guaranteed at the start of negotiations.”

Business experts said the lack of formal targets had left businesses on an unsure footing when planning for the future, but there were clues that they could follow, such as the EU’s negotiating stance of cuts of 25-40% for developed countries.

Tom Howard-Vyse, head of media in Europe at The Climate Group, said: “The EU’s negotiating position is really the best certainty that business has at the moment.”

Chris Staples, managing associate at law firm Linklaters said that businesses could expect to see something similar to Kyoto, as nations only had until 2009 to draw up its successor.

He said: “Two years is an incredibly short period of time and to imagine that we will come up with something drastically different from what we already have in that short time is unrealistic.”

Earlier in the week, the UK government had described the agreement in Bali as a “historic breakthrough”.

Environment secretary Hilary Benn said: “What we have achieved here has never been done before. Less than a year ago, many would have said this agreement was impossible.”

Kate Martin

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