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5 December 2007updated 24 Sep 2015 11:16am

A new Kyoto?

At the Bali conference, Peter Hardstaff reflects on the differences between campaigning for and camp

By Peter Hardstaff

As a veteran, if that’s the right word, of several international governmental meetings (WTO, World Bank/IMF, G8 etc.), I have to confess it’s refreshing to be demanding that governments come together and reach a positive agreement.

Often, we are ‘manning the barricades’ (metaphorically or actually) in an attempt to stop something bad happening.

Saying that, it’s usually more about perception than reality. Take the trade talks as an example. We have been rightly perceived as opposing the unfair agenda of the European Union, US and various others in the current trade round but this has also been taken to mean we oppose trade itself, we oppose having rules and we oppose multilateralism; all of which is total guff.

Anyway, back to the point; it makes a change to be perceived as campaigning ‘for’ something rather than ‘against’. Don’t get me wrong; there are several potentially grim things that could be ‘inserted’ into the climate talks that will need to be opposed.

The spectre of nuclear power will not be far away (let’s use new clean technologies, not the old rubbish like nuclear power) and biofuels will also no doubt be heavily promoted (how about using technology that actually reduces emissions and doesn’t exacerbate hunger?). Both the nuclear industry and biofuel lobby have sent their emissaries to Bali to drum-up support.

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There is also the danger that a new deal could be created and that this could specifically subordinate itself to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. It sounds like trivial nonsense but whether to create a brand new agreement is no small matter. Talking to people in the corridors here in Bali, one of the major issues at stake in this conference is whether or not the Kyoto Protocol is extended and perhaps amended (generally what developing countries want in order to preserve the good bits of the Kyoto deal) or whether an entirely new agreement is created (what some richer countries like the USA want because they want to re-write the rules and water-down some of the development friendly stuff).

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And whether or not Kyoto is amended or replaced, there is always the danger that any new rules create loopholes big enough to drive a truck through that mean rich countries end up not having to reduce their own carbon emissions by what is required.

So, actually, it looks like there could be quite a lot of opposing to do. Oh bugger. Anyway, overall, on balance, it makes a nice change to be positive.

Stop nukes and biofuels now!