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Showdown in Bali

This month’s international meeting in Bali will set a framework that will attempt to prevent the impending disaster of global warming. Its participants should bear in mind that the problem is too important to be held hostage to another attempt at squeezing the poor.

BALI – This month’s international meeting in Bali will set a framework that will attempt to prevent the impending disaster of global warming/climate change. There is now little doubt that greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are leading to significant changes in climate. Nor is there doubt that these changes will impose huge costs. The question is no longer whether we can afford to do something, but rather how to control emissions in an equitable and effective way.

The Kyoto Protocol was a major achievement, yet it left out 75% of the sources of emissions: the US, the largest polluter, refused to sign. (With Australia’s new government now having signed the Protocol, America is now the sole holdout among the advanced industrial countries.) No requirements were put on developing countries, yet within the not-too-distant future, they will contribute half or more of emissions. And nothing was done about deforestation, which is contributing almost as much to increases in greenhouse gas concentrations as the US.

The US and China are in a race to be the world’s worst polluter; America has long won the contest, but in the next few years, China will claim that dubious honor. But Indonesia is number three, owing to its rapid deforestation.

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