US is main block at Bali talks: EU

US is main block at Bali talks: EU

Nusa Dusa, Indonesia: US opposition is the “one main blocking issue" preventing 190 nations in Bali from launching negotiations on a global climate pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol from 2013, the EU said on 13 December.

The Bali talks are finely balanced on what range of emissions cuts rich countries should aspire to as a guide for them in more detailed negotiations over the next two years on individual national emissions targets.

“We are a bit disappointed that all the world is still waiting for the United States," said Humberto Rosa, secretary of state environment, Portugal. Portugal holds the rotating EU presidency and Rosa is the EU’s chief negotiator at the Bali talks.

“The US has been using new words on this -- engagement, leadership -- but words are not enough. We need action. That’s the main blocking issue," he said.

“We haven’t heard a clear commitment from the US that their effort will be of the same nature and level as other developed countries."

The EU wants governments in Bali to agree to a quantified target range for emission cuts by developed countries. The EU has said it prefers a range of 25 to 40% greenhouse gas cuts by 2020 versus 1990 levels and that range remains in the latest draft Bali text published.

Countries that have ratified Kyoto agreed in August that the range was a useful pointer for developed countries. The United States has refused to ratify the protocol and has resisted any agreement of specific emissions reduction goals in Bali.

“We need a range because that’s what we think is compatible with what science is telling us, and science is telling us something of urgency and of commitment," said Rosa.

When asked if the 25 to 40% range was negotiable, he said: “That’s yet to be seen. The range must be compatible with what science, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), tells us."

Another blocking issue at the Bali talks has been how much money rich countries should put on the table to help poor nations adapt to climate change already happening and to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

“We didn’t come to Bali with a cheque that we’re ready to give to adaptation, to technology right now. That’s what I call the unrealistic part of it. We want to reach 2009 with a very clear and concrete action pattern on technology transfer and adaptation," said Rosa.

The United Nations wants countries to agree on a successor to Kyoto during a meeting in Copenhagen in late 2009.