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News : Irish Last Updated: Dec 19th, 2007 - 13:17:15

UN Climate Change Conference: 14 Irish officials jet to Bali to join 10,000 to get action on climate change
By Michael Hennigan
Dec 6, 2007, 04:50

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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.


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.

Up to 14 Irish officials are attending the conference and additional Irish representatives from various organisations are also there. Three years ago 24 Irish officials travelled to Hong Kong for the Doha Trade Round conference.  (SEE: Freeloaders to reduce Air Travel in interests of Planet! Like hell they will! )

What will most of them be doing in Bali?

Delegates at work/online in the Computer Centre

Lobbying the Chinese and Indians?

In an ideal world, the quota would be set at 3 officials including the Minister.

In answer to the question what most of them will be doing in contributing to action on climate change, there is an acronym SFA, that fairly sums it up.

The global travel/hospitality industry would really get the jitters if a serious climate change culture resulted in a loss of business from freeloaders on junkets.

That isn't going to happen.

Climate change action like much else will continue to be: "Let them eat cake!"

The following is a detail provided to Finfacts by the Department of  Environment, Heritage & Local Government (DEHLG):

Oireachtas representation is expected as follows:

Mr Sean Barrett, TD Chairman of the Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security, Mr Simon Coveney, TD Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives) Mr Ciaran Cuffe TD Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives) Senator Fiona O'Malley Seanad Éireann (Senate) Mr Padraig Allen Secretariat Oireachtas Éireann

The rest of the delegation is as follows:

For the high-level ministerial segment:

Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government

2 DEHLG officials

For the bulk of the two week conference:

2 DEHLG officials

2 EPA officials

1 DCENR official (Department of Communications Energy & Natural Resources)

1 DFA official (Department of Foreign Affairs)


Finfacts Climate Change Reports - access on right-hand column of home page

Developed countries  have unshirkable responsibilities for climate change

The following is an extract of a commentary this week by Xinhua, China's State news agency:

Developed countries, in their industrialization and modernization process, were the sources of unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide.

These nations accounted for 95 percent of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide resulting from the use of fossil fuels from the start of the Industrial Revolution in 18th century to 1950, and for 77 percent in the 1950-2000 period.

Continuing the upward trend in recent years, the total greenhouse gas emissions of major industrialized countries reached 18.2 billion tons in 2005, close to the all-time high of 18.7 billion tons set in 1990, as data released by the UNFCCC secretariat show.

Developed countries, therefore, have unshirkable responsibilities for climate change and should fulfill their major obligations.

They should fully meet emissions reduction targets set by the Kyoto Protocol and continue to take the lead in cutting emissions after 2012, when the protocol expires.

For developing countries, as their accumulative emissions in the past and per capita emissions are low, their primary task at present remains economic growth and poverty eradication. To this end, developing countries will have a growing demand for energy, a basic prerequisite for their development.

Therefore, while addressing climate change, the international community should fully consider the developing countries' rights to and potential for development.

At current stage, it is inappropriate to impose compulsory emissions reduction targets on developing countries. These countries, nevertheless, should take actions, in line with their specific conditions, to tackle climate change. They need to pay special attention to introducing advanced clean technologies and adapting them to their own conditions so as to contribute, within their power, to this global endeavor.

The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities also serves as the basis for maintaining and promoting international cooperation. It calls for increasing assistance to developing nations from the international community.

 Developed countries should make good on their promises for technology transfer and financial assistance to help developing countries enhance their capacity for mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.

© Copyright 2007 by Finfacts.com

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