Great analysis on the Bali conference from Charles Clover, the environment correspondent from the UK right-wing Telegraph, which we reprint in full:

“As an exhibition of hypocrisy, the UN climate change conference in Bali takes some beating. The Indonesian President Yudhoyono is there, playing delegates the video of a song he wrote about saving the planet, while his government, though making splendidly conservationist noises, presides over an orgy of illegal logging that it is powerless, or unwilling, to stop.

“Then there are the carbon emissions of the 15,000 delegates, environmentalists, journalists and carbon traders who travelled to the summit. Perhaps you expected the Czech chairman of the European Parliament’s environment committee to have given the subject of offsetting a moment’s thought before he arrived, with his pretty assistant, to stay in the outrageously lavish Conrad resort at Nusa Dua. But he conceded he hadn’t.”

“There are things about the whole UN process that seem designed to make ordinary folk spit. Everyone accepts that the best we can expect at the end of what Yvo de Boer, the most senior climate change official in the UN, rightly called an extraordinary year for climate change (all those IPCC reports, the G8, even a conference in the United States) is an agreement to begin negotiations on a two-year process leading up to Copenhagen in 2009. Isn’t negotiating what these people have been up to this past fortnight?”

“The abuse of language and logic by the international diplomatic community makes people outside the Westin compound in Bali simmer with fury. The vast majority of those on the inside track, including the amiable but lentil-eating Hilary Benn, will try to convince you that negotiations which will involve the whole world, including the United States, are a big deal.”

“But that’s only if they come off. You do wonder why, given that climate change is so important, a dozen people can’t just be locked in a room and told to stay there until they have decided on a masterplan – one that includes saving Indonesia’s dwindling forests, which will have dwindled a whole lot more by the time this post-2012 treaty comes into force.”

“Deep below the political level, people are going to presentations on whether we should plump for a global fund to avert tropical deforestation, which causes 20 per cent of annual greenhouse gas emissions, or whether we should allow carbon trading through projects that might accelerate deforestation on neighbouring plots. I don’t know the answer but getting it wrong would mean the tropical forests will disappear.”

“Those of us enraged by the slowness of the process find few friends in Bali. But in a world of democratic countries and treaties negotiated by consensus, it is all there is. And until George Bush leaves the White House, nothing is going to change.”

“The bunch of Texan incompetents may have finally conceded that climate change is real, dangerous and happening, but no political leadership has resulted. They may have lost the war, but they are going to hold on to their guns.”

“American local and national politicians of both main parties have promised that America will catch up in 2009. I doubt it, but the debate is certainly going to be a great deal more interesting, whichever party’s candidate is elected president.”

“Meanwhile, all around us in Bali is the future: it is in the shape of the American carbon traders who are salivating at the thought of the trillions of dollars they may make under the successor to the Kyoto Protocol. As Hilary Benn pointed out: there were no merchant banks with carbon trading desks and agendas attending Kyoto.”

“I had a drink last night with one American carbon trader, already a very rich man on the basis of the Protocol – which, incidentally, his government had said would never work. He is confident that the beginning of negotiations will inject confidence into the market in emission reductions.”

“Trading in emission reductions – already under way in the EU and parts of the United States – has the potential to become serious business, and is recognised by the capital markets.”

“Where the capital markets lead, politicians follow. Huge new markets in carbon trading, potentially worth billions, are likely to be created simply by the inclusion of the words “averting deforestation” in the agreement that may come out this week.”

“People didn’t think Kyoto would work. They woke up five years late and found the markets it had created working. The revolution unleashed by Bali looks like it might well be unstoppable, if a little late.”

One Comment

  • C&C [Contraction and Convergence – see links below] takes the integral of fossil fuel consumption that stabilises the atmosphere concentration and puts the ‘carbon market’ inside that framework i.e. creating a global framework-based market and completing the sub-global market-based framework created with Kyoto Protocol.

    In case it isn’t ‘obvious’ why this is so critical, this presentation of C&C has been created to include the Hadley ‘coupled carbon cycle models’. These make it clear that emissions need to go down to nearly net-zero by 2050/60 globally if the 450ppmv/two-degrees limit is to be observed.

    The C&C component assumes the fossil fuel contect of emissions against the back-drop of all emissions [i.e. land-use change], as per the UK Hadely Centre coupled-modelling. The ‘coupled 450 Hadley’ is mouse-touch sensitive for emphasis on ‘touch’.

    The ‘carbon-arithmetic’ counting this inegration/time dependency in the animation is at: –

    or for Macs

    The situation is increasingly serious as we continue to cause this problem of imate change much faster than we are responding to avoid it. This is a reason to keep integrating the annual rates with the global integral of carbon consumption that stabilises the ghg content of the atmosphere.

    Leading with short-term, more sub-global and one-sided argument reinforces separate development everywhere with no prospect of sustainable development anywhere. ‘

    Leading without this integral of understanding in play is fire-fighting without water.

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