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Bali Conference Opens With Call For Breakthrough

UN climate change conference opens in Bali with call for breakthrough

The United Nations Climate Change Conference opened in Bali, Indonesia today with a call for a clear agenda that will lead countries toward a new deal to address the problem by 2009 so that it can enter into force in 2013 when the current regime expires.

At the same time, conference leaders cautioned that while Bali should launch the negotiations, it would not deliver a fully negotiated deal.

"While the launch of negotiations and a clear deadline of 2009 to end the negotiations would constitute a breakthrough, anything short of that would constitute a failure," said Indonesian Environment Minister and President of the Conference Rachmat Witoelar said.

"It is critical that we act and we act now," he said. "It is imperative to start the process in Bali. We need to send a strong statement to the international community that we at the Bali negotiations can act with the requisite sense of urgency and import."

The Bali Conference is expected to launch negotiations that would likely take two years to conclude. But while Bali is expected to frame the negotiations that will lead to an agreement, many of the most contentious issues are likely to be considered much later in the negotiating process.

To help shape the negotiations in on the future Bali, the Conference established a special contact group, chaired by South Africa and Australia.

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said public expectations for Bali to provide answers are big. "The eyes of the world," he told negotiators, "are now upon you. There is a huge responsibility for Bali to deliver."

Still, few expect that reaching agreement in Bali and on a future agreement will be easy. "Shaping the future may seem like the impossible task of squaring a circle of conflicting interests," Mr. de Boer said.

He called for continued leadership by industrialized countries, saying bold action by them can boost growth in the South. And while fossil fuels will continue to be the main drivers of growth, Mr. de Boer said developing countries could avoid the same mistakes as developed countries through greater cooperation, technology and incentives.

He called for collective efforts to create a comprehensive framework that allows all countries to adapt, particularly those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Kenyan Environment Minister David Mwiraria, stressed the need to take real action on adaptation. He called for countries to conclude agreement on the remaining issues that need to be resolved that would allow the Kyoto Protocol's Adaptation Fund to start operation. He also said work had been slow on efforts to bring more Clean Development Mechanism projects to Africa.


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