Well, the global climate change summit in Bali has drawn to a close.
Approaching the end, it seemed like delegates would leave the summit with nothing but a tan and a bunch of free pina coladas. The United States continually roadblocked efforts to set tangible emissions standards, citing concerns that China, India, and other developing countries are not making the commitments demanded of the US. But in the final hour, after being hissed at and booed by fellow delegates, we finally capitulated a wee tad. After talking it out, everybody decided it would be a grand old time if… they all talked some more! Two years of talks, to be precise. This from a wonderful round-up of the conference by the NY Times (found here),
The resulting “Bali Action Plan” contains no binding commitments, which European countries had sought and the United States fended off. The plan concludes that “deep cuts in global emissions will be required” and provides a timetable for two years of talks to shape the first formal addendum to the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty since the Kyoto Protocol 10 years ago.
At first glance, this seems to be dissapointing, non-binding politico-speak leaving us right where we are now. But considering that the Bush Administration has until now entirely denied the need for new climate policy from fifteen years ago, it represents a pretty big shift. And, as Al Gore pointed out when he accepted his Nobel Prize, the next administration is more apt to realize we’re plunging the world to its doom. (Get that story here.) In two years, we’ll have that new government. US negotiators certainly wheeled and dealed and pushed off the issue with another series of non-binding commitments. But maybe – just maybe – a new Administraton will make something real out of these post-Bali talks.
At least one of our presidents sees the urgent need for a stricter energy policy – Brandeis’ President Jehuda Reinharz. We have signed onto the Presidents Climate Commitment, a commitment to form a plan for universities to go climate-neutral. I encourage you to check it out here. Other area schools Harvard, Yale, Tufts, BU, Brown, and M.I.T have all not signed.
An interesting side-note – we spend more developing laser weaponry to fry the world than we do on researching renewable energy sources to keep it from frying. Take the recent mounting of a 12,000-lb laser on a 747 as an example of our twisted priorities.
More on what we as Brandeis students can do on climate change to come.