Canada & the Bali Climate Change Conference – Conclusion

Written by  //  December 15, 2007  //  Canada, Climate Change, Public Policy  //  2 Comments

December 15
Canada’s environment minister says he regrets watered-down climate deal
(CP) BALI, Indonesia – Canada helped gut some of the substance from a world climate-change deal and then expressed regret Saturday when the final agreement was ultimately watered down even more than it had hoped.
Environment Minister John Baird hailed as a positive step a United Nations agreement to seek a new global climate-change treaty by 2012.
But he expressed regret that the agreement was almost completely stripped of any reference to numbers and targets which would have been the starting point for the discussion.
Canada sided with the U.S. and Japan in a small group of wealthy non-European countries that successfully removed references to emissions targets for developed countries by 2020.
The treaty was also stripped of references to longer-term targets – which Baird said he had been prepared to accept.
Baird said the Bali conference achieved its primary goals of launching negotiations, getting all countries to agree to basic parameters, and setting a 2009 deadline date.
… In a separate agreement among Kyoto signatories, Baird was among the few voices calling for the 2020 targets to be removed.
A handful of countries then rose to take a slap at Canada’s position and Baird eventually agreed to leave the target in the final text – even though he says Canada can never meet it.
The high point of the exercise came after a negotiating session that stretched a full day longer than expected.
In the larger non-Kyoto group, the United States earned the wrath of other nations by opposing a deal that many had already considered far too weak.
Then in a move as sudden as the one Baird made within the Kyoto group, American delegates shocked their peers and drew sustained applause by declaring their support for the final agreement.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion hailed the global agreement as an encouraging development in the fight against climate change. But he regretted the role played by Canada’s government.
… Saturday’s developments came after marathon negotiations overnight, which first settled a battle between Europe and the U.S. over whether the document should mention specific goals for rich countries’ obligations to cut greenhouse gas emissions. … European and U.S. envoys duelled into the final hours of the two-week meeting over the European Union’s proposal that the Bali mandate suggest an ambitious goal for cutting industrial nations’ emissions – by 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.
That guideline’s specific numbers were eliminated from the text, but an indirect reference was inserted instead.
Canada had dismissed the European objective as unattainable, arguing that it would need to slash emissions by 38 to 53 per cent within only 12 years to reach that target.
It’s a position that has earned Canada the scorn of environmentalists in Bali, with one spoof newspaper ad depicting Stephen Harper, George W. Bush, and Japan’s Yasuo Fukuda in a mock movie poster as stars on an environmental Titanic.
The conference concluded with the Canadian government involved in open warfare against its own country’s environmentalists.
Environment Minister John Baird refused to meet with green groups in Bali and his delegation worked actively to discredit them. Government officials drew attention to some having partisan ties to the Liberal party.

The environmentalists swung back repeatedly. Their tactics ranged from conventional petitions to covert efforts, and even tried sleep-deprivation tactics with one Canadian official. They obtained the cellphone number of a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, spread it around the Internet, and bombarded Dimitri Soudas with hundreds of crank-calls and text messages throughout the wee hours Saturday.
They also put Baird on the defensive by informing Canadian media any time the minister left a meeting. He found himself fending off suggestions that he skipped critical talks late Thursday.

U.S., Canada agree to framework at climate conference
Mike De Souza, CanWest News Service
NUSA DUA, Indonesia — The Harper government and the Bush administration caved in to international pressure at the United Nations climate change summit on Saturday, accepting the “Bali roadmap” towards a new comprehensive agreement to stop human activity from causing irreversible damage to the earth’s atmosphere and ecosystems.
… Many delegates and observers suggested that the conference was forced to extend for an extra day, instead of wrapping up as scheduled on Friday, because of systematic efforts from the U.S., Canada and Japan to block them from officially recognizing that the next climate change agreement should be guided by stringent targets in tune with the latest scientific evidence.
Baird was also accused of skipping out on key meetings during the final hours of the conference and of deliberately trying to slow down the process and prevent a consensus on the Indonesian resort island.
“He treated this as a holiday retreat rather than a working session,” said NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen, who also attended the conference. “He went and spent time with people he agreed with as opposed to people he needed to negotiate with.”
But Baird said he worked very long days, getting little sleep in the face of an intensive barrage of criticism leveled at Canada during the two-week conference. He said this was “the real price of leadership” for indicating his government’s true beliefs about what was required in the best possible deal for the environment and the planet.
“A lot of countries were thinking what Canada was saying at this conference and simply put we have no option but to work hard for an effective agreement,” said Baird, before taking a jab at Liberal Leader Stephane Dion. “I don’t want to come to another conference in 10 years and have the deputy leader of my own party say I didn’t get it done.”
But Dion, who indicated that he had worked behind the scenes to build a consensus at the conference, said he was pleased that the process he started as chair of the 2005 climate change summit in Montreal was moving forward.

Baird a no-show at key negotiating session
GEOFFREY YORK, Globe and Mail
NUSA DUA, INDONESIA — Environment Minister John Baird is facing criticism for skipping a key negotiating session on the eve of the last scheduled day at the Bali climate conference.
Senior federal officials have confirmed that Mr. Baird did not attend a lengthy negotiating session on Thursday night of the 34 countries that were chosen to resolve the thorniest issues at the Bali conference. Instead, he sent a bureaucrat to speak for Canada.
The officials said Mr. Baird gave instructions to the bureaucrat and was available just a few minutes away if the bureaucrat needed to consult him. Instead of attending the negotiating session, Mr. Baird attended a meeting of a bloc of several industrialized countries that have acted together at the talks, the officials said.
… Critics scoffed at the notion that Mr. Baird was building bridges. “How can you play such a crucial role if you’re not there?” asked Steven Guilbeault, of the Quebec-based environmental group Equiterre.
“He was invited to a select group of ministers to help the chair of the conference move forward the negotiations, and he doesn’t show up,” Mr. Guilbeault said. “What does it say about how seriously Mr. Baird is taking those negotiations? I don’t think he takes them very seriously. I don’t think he’s here to help the negotiations come to a successful conclusion.”
By leaving the negotiating session in the hands of a bureaucrat, Mr. Baird put Canada at a disadvantage in the talks, since other countries were represented by more senior leaders, Mr. Guilbeault said.


2 Comments on "Canada & the Bali Climate Change Conference – Conclusion"

  1. Diana Thébaud Nicholson December 15, 2007 at 12:37 pm ·

    From: Ricken Patel – []
    Sent: Saturday, December 15, 2007 3:54 PM
    Subject: WE WON!!!
    Wow –
    This morning, in a massive U-turn in the 11th hour of extended negotiations, the Harper government finally dropped its opposition to 2020 emissions targets among Kyoto countries , and a climate change agreement was reached in Bali!
    Over 110,000 of us came together over the last 4 days and added our voices to a wave of popular outrage – we supported the ads that ran in Canadian papers and at the conference in Bali, called Harper and our MPs, and built the strength of the petitions, events, banners, and marches at the summit. And it all worked!
    Avaaz is a non-partisan group and the NDP and Green Party also deserve credit for opposing Harper, but [Liberal leader Stéphane] Dion had an impassioned comment for us:
    Lots of factors helped make this happen, especially a strong resolve and pressure from other countries. In teaming up with people around the globe to save our climate – including over 600,000 other Avaaz members who pushed their governments – we’ve defended Canada’s proud tradition of doing the right thing in the world. The struggle is far from over, but this weekend is for celebrating!
    With much joy and enormous respect for everyone who signed, forwarded, donated, called, lobbied and pitched in,
    Ricken and the Avaaz team

  2. Diana Thébaud Nicholson December 19, 2007 at 10:18 pm ·

    From: Ricken Patel –
    What happened at Bali
    On Saturday, in desperate last-minute negotiations, the world faced down an effort by the US, Canada and Japan to wreck the crucial Bali Climate Change Summit. Over 600,000 of us from 192 nations mobilized to save the Bali talks, including 320,000 in the final 72 hours! Click to see photos and videos of the effort.
    Arriving in Bali, most countries wanted to work towards a new global treaty on climate change as well as new targets for carbon emissions by rich countries. But late last week, the US and Canada teamed up to undermine the talks — the US blocked the whole Bali summit consensus, and when a smaller group of Kyoto treaty countries tried to move ahead without the US, they were blocked by Canada. The summit was in danger of deadlock.
    The Avaaz community flew into action, signing and spreading petitions to each of the governments, supporting ad campaigns in Bali and Canada, marches around the world, and phoning and lobbying elected officials. At the summit, Avaaz members brought the storm of public criticism inside the conference walls with the only march allowed inside the venue, the largest climate petition delivery in history, daily press conferences and “fossil awards” for the worst countries in the negotiations, and constant lobbying of officials.
    In the final hours of the summit, Canada backed down completely and allowed Kyoto countries to agree to strong 2020 targets on carbon emissions, and the US team, now entirely isolated and actually booed by the world’s diplomats, compromised and agreed to call for “deep cuts” and “reference” the 2020 targets. It was not a complete victory, but this paved the way for the summit to agree to sign a new global climate change treaty by 2009.
    Usually these conferences are stuffy diplomatic affairs – but this time the world was watching, and speaking, each day. Together, we brought people-powered politics to the halls of power, and put our governments on notice: in the fight to save our environment, we will not be spectators. Click for report on this campaign with videos and pictures.
    This is just the beginning. Every nation of the world has now agreed that they will enter into accelerated negotiations and, by 2009, sign a new treaty to confront global warming. We need this treaty to set binding global targets for carbon emissions, and a mechanism for meeting them, that keep the earth’s temperature from rising more than 2 degrees celsius – the amount that scientists say would be ‘catastrophic’. Such a treaty will change the world’s economy forever, weaning us off oil and fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy. Some leaders, in the pocket of the oil industry, will fight it tooth and nail all the way. And we will too. A great struggle to save our environment has begun, and this weekend, we showed together that the people of the world aren’t intending to sit this one out.

Comments are now closed for this article.