Its the greenhouse Groundhog day, again. How often has America prevented progress over international agreements on climate change?

The US is trying to remove a reference to 25-40% cuts in carbon pollution by 2020 for developed countries, which remained in the draft roadmap released by the UN yesterday.

Harlan Watson, US chief negotiator, said: “The reality in this business is that once numbers appear in the text, it prejudges the outcome and will tend to drive the negotiations in one direction.”

Germany’s environment minister Sigmar Gabriel said the Bali conference would be meaningless if it did not set clear targets. He said: “I do not need a paper from Bali in which we only say, ‘OK, we’ll meet next year again’. How can we find a roadmap without having a target, without having a goal?”

The roadmap aims to set the framework and timetable to agree a successor to the Kyoto protocol, the existing global treaty to regulate greenhouse gases, which expires in 2012.

In the next 48 hours, something will have to give. Al Gore will address the high-level delegations today. Speaking in Sweden, the Nobel Peace Prize-winner said: “The position of the administration in the US right now appears to be to try to block any progress in Bali. I hope that will change.”

Al, you will wake up on Monday and nothing will have changed … Welcome to Groundhog Day, George W-style.


  • I like this image. The US takes its head out of the sand, sees the long shadow that its own actions cast over the planet, and sticks its head right back in again.

    I’m just back in from Bali – watch this space for some perspectives on the island of the gods and the conference of the damned.

  • One thing is clear from Bali, (as it has been every day in this horror version of Groundhog Day), changing the US position will not be achieved by international negotiations or the thousands of well-meaning and serious people who attend Bali and other meetings of Climate Convention.

    It will be achieved through political change inside the US.

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