Bali negotiations underway

World leaders gathered in the tropical climes of Bali this week to begin long-awaited discussions on drawing up a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference 2007, which is set to run until the end of next week, is focusing on whether a further set of binding targets is needed to curb emissions after 2012.

One of the major headlines of the week was the decision of Australia’s new government to ratify the Kyoto treaty on day one of the conference after ten years out in the cold.

The move leaves the US as the only developed country that has failed to sign up to the treaty.

As the first week ended, delegates were still no nearer to resolving the question of whether developing countries such as China would agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, Yvo de Boer, remained optimistic about the progress of the talks.

“Nothing’s been ruled out,” he said. “The negotiations on the future are going very well.”

Hundreds of scientists have also headed to the Indonesian island to argue the case for strict limits on carbon emissions.

In the Bali Climate Declaration, published on Thursday, more than 200 leading international climate scientists said global emissions must peak and decline in the next 10 to 15 years to keep global warming within two degrees Celsius.

Environmental campaign groups have also been making their presence felt at the conference and encouraging world leaders to act quickly to agree targets.

This week Greenpeace brought their message home by erecting a 6.7m thermometer outside the conference warning of the danger of rising global temperatures.

A range of other important issues have also been under negotiation at this year’s annual conference.

The agenda for Bali also includes topics such as adaptation to climate change, the launch of a fund for adaptation, reducing emissions from deforestation, and arrangements for a review of the Kyoto protocol.

Kate Martin

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