Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Tuesday, 11 December, 8 p.m. — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Bali today and spoke to an overflow crowd at an event on UN Development Programme’s flagship Human Development Report
. "All we need is the resolve to act," the Secretary-General said, adding that Bali for the starting point for launching a process that is "comprehensive and inclusive" to address climate change.

The Report itself says the richer countries should ramp up assistance to developing countries, in the amount of at least $86 billion a year, to assist people in poorer countries adapt to climate change.

"We cannot expect the poorest countries to sink or swim with their own resources," say Kevin Watkins, the lead author of the Report. "It’s indefensible and scandalous."

Tuesday, 11 December, 5 p.m. — It’s not just polar bears that are the poster species for climate change. Penguins are also in trouble, a message that was dramatically demonstrated today by WWF International , one of several NGOs that held photo opportunities today, by several people dressed in penguin suits sweltering in the hot Bali sun.

Penguins, says WWF, are in trouble because the Antarctic peninsula is warming five time as fast as the global average.

Tuesday, 11 December, 3 p.m. — Today is the 10th Anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol, the agreement ever adopted by countries with specific plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The birthday was celebrated with a huge birthday cake wheeled in by Greenpeace at the end of a press conference with some of the main negotiators of Kyoto , who say that Kyoto still provides the building blocks of whatever comes next. Japanese Environment Minister Ichiro Kamoshita cut the cake after saying that Kyoto was a very important first step on actions taken by the international community, and that Japan would do its best to meet its commitments under the Protocol.

But there was a strong undercurrent of regret that Kyoto did not work as well as planned, mainly due to the decision of the United States not to join the Protocol. Raul Estrada, who presided over the Kyoto talks, says the Protocol was adopted unanimously and followed US proposals for cap and trade. And Michael Zammit Cutajar, who formerly headed UNFCCC said Kyoto was the most important economic agreement launched by the UN. Looking back, he says, it is clear that in adopting any new agreement, "governments must come to the table with authority" referring to the fact that it was clear, even in Kyoto, that the US would not be able to ratify the Protocol.

Tuesday, 11 December, 12 p.m. — Sometimes the starkest messages on climate change do not come from the environmentalists. Today the head of the International Energy Agency, Nobuo Tanaka , said carrying on with business as usual would le
ad to a 6°C increase in the global temperature and even the ambitious reductions efforts announced by governments would lead to a reduction of only 19 per cent and would result in a 3°C temperature rise. A $22 trillion investment by the private sector, he says, would be needed.

While Tanaka says to really achieve meaningful results, a huge investment is needed, to the tune of $22 trillion by 2030. "CO2 should have a price," he says, " to make it happen." And all energy sources must be part of the mix, including coal, for which is says new the new technology for carbon capture and storage will be necessary. "This should be covered by Clean Development Mechanism; otherwise no one will do that in India or China.

The large scale investment that is needed is so big that Tanaka says he so sometimes calls "it science fiction." But he says it is not impossible.

Tuesday, 11 December, 11 a.m. — The pace in Nusa Dua has quickened today. Security is tighter, lines are long and the crowds are thicker as ministers and a handful of presidents are starting to arrive for tomorrows "High Level Segment" of the conference. One of the first to come was the President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau, Jr. who participated in a press conference announcing the new "Micronesia Challenge" that will help the small islands of the Pacific adapt to climate change. The small islands, tiny in terms of land mass or people, provide the habitat for half of the world’s marine plants and animals, but are suffering from climate change-caused sea level rise, intensified storm, and even droughts. The new project, President Remengesau says will serve as a global model that will help address climate change and biodiversity, and help preserve the culture of the islanders, which has always coexisted with the natural environment.

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