Kyoto Roadmap


Christmas and New Year have come and gone and the events of the Bali meeting of the UN’s Climate Convention and Kyoto Protocol seem distant mountains on the horizon. Already the media debate around climate change policy in Australia has refocused on domestic policy such as the development of the local emissions trading system. However, it would be a mistake to think that global diplomacy around the agreed Bali Roadmap will not play heavily on the minds of domestic decision makers over the next two years.

The old saying goes that UN meetings are either “successful” or “very successful”. After last minute personal interventions from the UN Secretary General and the Indonesian President, a “successful” Bali Roadmap was adopted that sets out the parameters for negotiations leading up to Copenhagen in 2009 for a post-2012 agreement.

The Bali Mandate contains two important paths. The first path enhances the UN Climate Change Convention by setting a course for “long-term cooperative action”. For the first time, developing countries have committed to preparation of mitigation actions, supported by technology and financing. As the South African delegate stated, “Developing countries are saying voluntarily that we are willing to commit ourselves to measurable, reportable and verifiable mitigation actions. It has never happened before. A year ago, it was totally unthinkable.”

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However, the US played a role in weakening the requirements for developed countries to measurable actions including “quantifiable emission limitation and reduction objectives”. That is, not necessarily even greenhouse pollution reduction targets. This path also included processes to identify ways to reduce emissions from deforestation and to improve action on adapting to the unavoidable impacts of climate change already underway.

In the end, despite a recognition that to delay a reduction in emissions would risk more severe climate change, the final text for this path failed to refer to the 2020 and 2050 science backed targets that had been at the centre of negotiations over the two weeks of Bali.

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