Calls for "critical breakthrough" in the opening speeches of Climate Conference in Bali

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Monday, December 3, 2007

The freshly elected president of the World Climate Change Conference Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesian Minister of the environment, as well as his predecessor, Nabiel Makarim, and Yvo de Boer of the UNFCCC, called for a breakthrough in negotiations on the first day of the 13th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Bali today.

Inside the conference centre
Image: IISD/ ENB-Leila Mead.

All three speakers agreed that by the end of the conference, which lasts till the 14th of December, an agenda must be set for negotiations on a post-2012 agreement on climate change mitigation. In founding this demand, they each drew on the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, which establishes that the window for mitigating dangerous climate change closes in year 2030.

The outgoing President of the last session, David Mwiraria, Kenyan minister for environment and natural recources, held the first speech making some statements on his term of office. He went on to remind that the least developed, many of which are African nations and the small island states, are the ones that will be hit hardest by global warming, now and in the future.

The new president of the conference, Mr Witoelar, Indonesian minister of the environment agreed with that statement, saying that the "most severe impacts [...] will be felt by poor nations, and the poorest within them" and drew the conclusion that it is "critical that we act, and act now." Looking at the chances for the so-called Bali roadmap being agreed on, he noted that from consultations he had "heard that there was widespread support from governments" for making this happen. He went on to say that "Many have also expressed support for a target date of 2009".

As the two speakers before him, Yvo de Boer of the UNFCCC noted that 2007 had been a exceptional year regarding climate change, with multiple political high level meetings being held. He went on to say that the delegates should reach agreement on a multitude of issues that had only been in discussion up until now. Amongst others, these included the organizational questions regarding the Adaptation Fund, which is aimed at funding measures that will increase the adaptive capacity of nations with developing industries. Reaching agreement on these issues would allow their substance to be implemented, and at the same time "free up the negotiation capacity needed for the post-2012 process".

Finally, he addressed the matter of whether the targets that are to be set by 2009 are to be internationally legally binding or not, an issue that the United States is particularly sensitive about. He stated that in his opinion form follows function, making an allegory to the targets needing to be set before agreement being reached on how they are to be mandated .


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