U.S. Voters Hold Earth’s Destiny in their Hands …
Does the future of humanity and a third of all living things rest in the hands of American voters in the 2008 presidential elections? According to this editorial from Brazil’s Estadao newspaper, George W. Bush’s failure to follow through with Bill Clinton’s commitments at Kyoto creates skepticism over whether U.S. commitments made at Bali can be believed.
“At Bali, a step forward was taken in the battle against global warming … Many are commenting about how much the guidelines depend on the upcoming North American presidential elections.”
Translated By Brandi Miller
December 18, 2007
Brazil – Estadao – Original Article (Portuguese)
Everything led one to believe that the 13th Climate Conference that wrapped up in Bali this weekend – an international meeting to seek some kind of consensus on the need by 2013 for stricter rules to control greenhouse gasses – would end as a resounding failure. At the last minute, however, something useful came out of the meeting, particularly because a way was found – with some compromise – to gain some commitment from the country that emits the most CO2 on the planet, the United States, and which from the early days of the Kyoto Protocols has resisted any type of control over its emissions.
Led by the European Union, a group of countries wanted a commitment for a cut of from 25 to 40 percent off 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels, to be fulfilled by 2020. To win the agreement of the United States, they possibility of a much deeper cut of 50 percent was discussed, but over a much longer time frame – until 2050. But what please the North Americans most was not fixing any target date. Considering the fact that emissions grow every year, looking to have future rates lower than those of 1990 would mean reducing carbon emissions far more than if the reference period was later – for example, 2007. To be approved, the final text had to be full of loopholes, but at least it offers a roadmap to get to 2009, when it is hoped that targets for 2013 will be established and the Kyoto Protocols are due to expire.
Thus, with many concessions, on Saturday [Dec. 15] representatives from 190 countries signed the so-called “Bali Plan,” a document that could be a milestone for establishing guidelines for a new political agreement to combat global warming. This is what is unanimously sought by the most respected scientific institutions that produce documents like the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – and is an issue that poses a grave risk not only to the survival of a third of the earth’s living things, but in the long term, to the survival of humanity itself.
But as was expected, not even the common interests of all humanity succeeded in eliminating the differences between nations – many of them with strong historical foundations. If on the one hand, the major polluters in the developed world resist controls, on the other, representatives from developing countries like Munir Akram, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington and President of the G-77, a group of developing nations, gave speeches like this: “The industrialized countries had 200 years to follow a path to economic development based on the intensive use of carbon, and now that it’s our turn, they say we can’t do that.”