Everywhere in the media, the Bali Climate Change Summit is being characterised as a victory for the Climate Hysterics. The recalcitrant United States has been forced to kneel and victory has been snatched from the jaws of defeat.
Except that doesn't seem to the real story. It looks as if all that has occurred is that the United States has agreed to continue talking.
Well, they didn't get them. The US didn't get all it wanted either, which was the inclusion of developing nations particularly China and India in the agreement. See this BBC analysis. Although disappointed that firm carbon reduction goals were not agreed to in Bali, the Greens will use what was agreed to as a cudgel over the course of the next two years. The BBC reports:
Despite an aggressive EU-led campaign to include specific emissions reduction targets for industrial nations _ by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 _ the final road map has none.
The guidelines were eliminated after the U.S., joined by Japan and others, argued that targets should come at the end of the two-year negotiations, not the beginning.
The agreement, by consensus among some 190 nations, was nonetheless hailed as a crucial development in the world's struggle to come to grips with global warming, which scientists say will lead to widespread drought, floods, higher sea levels and worsening storms.
"This is a real breakthrough, a real opportunity for the international community to successfully fight climate change," said U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer. "Parties have recognized the urgency of action on climate change."
Environmentalists welcomed the final agreement, though some complained the document lacked specific emissions targets and did not include strong commitments for rich countries to provide poorer ones with green technology.
"The people of the world wanted more. They wanted binding targets," said Marcelo Furtado of Greenpeace Brazil.
The "Bali roadmap" initiates a two-year process of negotiations designed to agree a new set of emissions targets to replace those in the Kyoto Protocol. The EU had pressed for a commitment that industrialised nations should commit to cuts of 25-40% by 2020, a bid that was implacably opposed by a bloc containing the US, Canada and Japan.
The final text does not mention specific emissions targets, but does acknowledge that "deep cuts in global emissions will be required to achieve the ultimate objective" of avoiding dangerous climate change.
It also says that a delay in reducing emissions will make severe climate impacts.