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Countries Agree to Write New Climate Action Pact

Success at the UN climate change conference in Bali. (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

NUSA DUA, Bali, Indonesia, December 15, 2007 (ENS) – Governments meeting in Bali today agreed to launch negotiations towards a strengthened international climate change pact. The new treaty will be a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012.

The decision by 187 countries includes a clear agenda for the key issues to be negotiated by 2009. The agenda will cover action for adapting to the negative consequences of climate change, such as droughts and floods; ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; ways to widely deploy climate-friendly technologies; and financing of both adaptation and mitigation measures.

Concluding negotiations in 2009 will ensure that the new deal can enter into force by 2013, following the expiration of the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol.

“This is a real breakthrough, a real opportunity for the international community to successfully fight climate change,” said Indonesian Environment Minister and President of the conference, Rachmat Witoelar. “Parties have recognised the urgency of action on climate change and have now provided the political response to what scientists have been telling us is needed.”

Delegates applauded the consensus, and also the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in appreciation of their hard work and efficiency in guiding the negotiations.

Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said, “We now have a roadmap, we have an agenda and we have a deadline.”

“But we also have a huge task ahead of us and time to reach agreement is extremely short, so we need to move quickly,” he said.

From left, James Connaughton, who heads the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Paula Dobriansky, under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs, who leads the delegation.

The U.S. delegation at Bali agreed with the consensus early this morning after previously expressing reservations. The United States blocked the inclusion of firm emissions targets by a date certain that were endorsed by the European Union countries and others.

In discussions during the high-level segment of the meeting, which has been underway since Wednesday, Canada’s Environment Minister John Baird said his government is determined to honor existing commitments. Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol but under the current Conservative government has backed away from its commitment, saying it would be impossible to achieve.

Baird supported a long-term global target to cut emissions in half by 2050. He urged engagement of “all major emitting countries, with appropriate levels of ambition and timetables in a new binding agreement.”

Not waiting for the national governments to reach agreement world mayors and local governments have committed themselves to leadership and action with the launch of a global agreement to address the issue of global warming.

The World Mayors and Local Governments Climate Protection Agreement, introduced Wednesday by Mayor Michael Bloomber of New York, sets forth six commitments that not only address the challenge of climate change, but also accept the opportunities it presents.

“Today, two powerful and historic forces converge – the urbanization of the world’s people and our alteration of the world’s climate,” Mayor Bloomberg told a conference session Wednesday. “Both trends are accelerating.”

“Fifty years ago, fewer than 100 of the world’s cities had populations of one million or more people,” he said. “Within 10 years, nearly 500 cities will.

“The evidence of escalating climate change is indisputable and the world’s cities, which account for 80 percent of humanity’s production of greenhouse gases, recognize that inaction is not an option,” the New York mayor said.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and London Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron at their press conference. (Photo courtesy ENB)

“Let’s focus on what the nations that you represent, and the cities that I speak for, can do, rather than what they can’t,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “In that spirit, I ask you to take these two steps in finalizing the Bali Roadmap.”

“First, set out, honestly and fully, the duties that we all share. If we are to stabilize the world’s climate, science says we must cut carbon emissions by some 60 percent to 80 percent worldwide by mid-century,” he said.

Local governments Wednesday launched the World Mayors and Local Government Climate Protection Agreement, committing themselves to these targets.

“And second, I ask you to make the cities and local governments of the world an integral part of this process,” Bloomberg said.

“Mayors and local governments, if genuinely empowered and resourced, can lead emissions reductions to ensure high global targets are met,” explained Deputy Mayor of London Nicky Gavron. ” Cities and urban areas are responsible for 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. If governments don’t give us the means to deliver deep cuts we cannot avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change.”

The World Mayors and Local Governments Climate Protection Agreement is being launched by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, the World Mayors Council on Climate Change, United Cities and Local Governments, and the C40 Large Cities Climate Leadership Group. Collectively, these organizations represent a majority of global cities and local governments.

“My hope is that when this conference re-convenes in 2008, local officials from every land will be able to speak for themselves, not as outsiders, but as full members of their national delegations, said Mayor Bloomberg. “That will set the stage for their playing a productive role in negotiating the successor to the Kyoto Protocol in Copenhagen in 2009.”

The World Mayors and Local Governments Climate Protection Agreement is online at: http://www.globalclimateagreement.org.

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