||Last Updated: Dec 19th, 2007 - 13:17:15
|Balinese dancers perform outside the UN Climate Change Conference Convention Centre |
Ireland has a key role to play in advancing the environmental agenda, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore told a conference in Dublin last weekend.
The co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize said Ireland's growing prosperity brought with it "increased moral and political responsibilities to take a leadership role in tackling climate change".
Ireland, he said, "with its successful business model and unique political positioning, has a key role to play among developed nations in driving the environmental agenda".
Warm words at about $175,000 a pop, that may have flattered some in the audience and the VRT vehicle tax changes in Wednesday's budget were hardly a Niall Armstrong moment sequel ("That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind").
Beyond the blather and puffery, the principal players at the current United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, which is seeking to agree on a roadmap for a replacement of the Kyoto Protocol agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, are the US, European Union (led by Germany, the UK and France) Japan, China, India, Indonesia and Brazil. The last two are important because of the destruction of their rain forests.
(SEE: Forest countries seek carbon credits; Indonesia and Brazil are the world's third and fourth largest emitters of greenhouse gases
World loses forest area size of Ireland annually; Accounts for 18% of CO2 emissions - exceeding entire global transport sector)
There are about 10,000 delegates from over 180 countries in Bali and in terms of their impact, it could be compared with a big conference where the principal players are on stage and the rest form the audience with the opportunity for networking etc.
The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that anyone in doubt about the pivotal position played by China and India at this month's global climate change talks in Bali should glance through the latest forecasts from the International Energy Agency.
EMISSIONS FOR SELECT COUNTRIES – 2005
Assuming government policies remain unchanged, Chinese and Indian economic development would be the key drivers in sending annual global energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas – from 27bn tonnes in 2005 to 42bn by 2030, the IEA said last month.
“China is expected to overtake the US to become the world’s biggest emitter in 2007, while India becomes the third biggest emitter by around 2015,” the agency said in its World Energy Outlook report.
The FT says that while it is clear why China and India are firmly in the Bali spotlight, what role they should play there remains the focus of fierce debate.
Beijing and New Delhi bristle at calls from the developed world that they should accept caps on future greenhouse gas emissions as part of a global deal to replace the Kyoto protocol after it expires in 2012.
Even a United Nations Human Development report that suggested developing countries cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2050, while rich nations slash theirs by four-fifths, was enough to infuriate Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the head of India’s planning commission.
“Its recommendations look egalitarian but they are not,” Ahluwalia complained, arguing that such a target would leave India’s per capita emissions capped at less than a third of the average level permitted to the US and EU.
“It cannot be fair that you are projecting a reduction that leaves us on a per capita basis much below the rest of the world,” he says.
The FT report says Ahluwalia’s objections go to the heart of the issue: that while the world’s two most populous nations are the most important sources of new emissions growth, their citizens individually share little of the blame for global warming.