12/03/2007, 00.00
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Bali preparing the after-Kyoto

A UN-sponsored world conference on climate change opens today in Bali. More than 180 countries are set to look at a new road map to a new agreement on reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants that should be ready for signing in 2009. It should come into effect when the current phase of the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end in 2012. All eyes are on the United States and China, the world’s top contributors to greenhouse gases.

Bali (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A major UN-sponsored conference ON climate change opened today on the Indonesian island of Bali. Delegates from more than 180 nations and experts on climate and the environment will meet till December 14 tasked with crafting a road map for negotiations leading to a new pact to reduce greenhouse gasses and ostensibly replace the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

The target is 2009 by which time concrete steps for reductions must be formulated. Funding for clean technological development and help for developing countries to adapt to climate change must be finalised. This should enable governments to ratify the new agreement before the current phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Held under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Bali Conference has raised great expectations.

Indonesia's Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar told the opening summit session that momentum was building for an agreement to be hammered out here.

UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo de Boer told delegates that “expectations for Bali to provide answers are big. The eyes of the world are upon you. There is a huge responsibility for Bali to deliver.”

For Hans Verolme, WWF climate change director, said that the worst outcome would be if negotiations ended with a vague statement acknowledging the problem, but offering no concrete plan.

During the 11-day conference all eyes will be on the United States and China, the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases.

Following Australia’s recent ratification the United States remains the only developed country not to have signed the Kyoto Protocol.

Under its terms emerging economies like that of China but also Brazil and India do not have to meet any fixed emission caps. But given their new environmental and economic situation, the issue of environmentally-friendly development is pertinent to emerging and developing countries as well.

Before the Bali meeting the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that damages to the climate in this century will condemn poor counties to even greater misery, overwhelmed by environmental challenges like violent storms and flooding.

IPCC’s research has provided the scientific bases for the Bali conference, and negotiations now beginning in the Indonesian resort town must ideally conclude in Copenhagen at the end of 2009.

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