Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary
Bali, the “island of the Gods,” is a prime example of the beauty of our natural environment. At
the same time, Indonesia has first-hand experience of the extreme weather events caused by climate change.
Bali is therefore a poignant setting for the forthcoming crucial international negotiations on the way
forward to save our planet from the devastating effects of global warming.
The Bali conference will be the culmination of a momentous twelve months in the climate debate and needs to
produce a breakthrough in the form of a roadmap for a future climate change deal. This year, scientific
evidence of global warming, as set out in the fourth assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC), has put the reality of human-induced global warming beyond any doubt. According to the
report, eleven of the warmest years since instrumental records began, occurred during the last twelve years.
If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current pace and are allowed to double from their
pre-industrial level, the world faces an average temperature rise of around 3 degrees C this century.
Developing countries - not least in Asia - are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change due
to their large populations and their high exposure to sea level rise, storm surges and river flooding. What
we are facing is, in fact, not only an environmental problem, but has much wider implications: For economic
growth, water and food security, and for people's survival - especially those living in the poorest
communities. The recent joint award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to the IPCC for its work in disseminating
knowledge on climate change underlines the implications for overall peace and security.
On a more positive note, what the IPCC report also makes clear is that speedy and concerted international
action can still avoid some of the most catastrophic projections. What is needed is a political response to
what the scientists are telling us is necessary. Politically, the lights are on green. The European Union has
offered a very courageous commitment; the G8 has called for international progress; the Major Economies
process is seeking to find consensus among key countries; and at an unprecedented High-Level Event at United
Nations Headquarters in New York in September, many world leaders called for a breakthrough in Bali.
What Bali can deliver
What is needed is a breakthrough in the form of a roadmap for a new international agreement on enhanced
global action to fight climate change in the period after 2012, the year the first commitment period of the
Kyoto Protocol expires. The Bali conference will not deliver a fully negotiated and agreed climate deal, but
is aimed at setting the necessary wheels in motion. In order to avoid a gap after the end of the
Protocol’s first phase in 2012, the negotiations will need to conclude in 2009 to allow enough time for
The main issues
Not only the timeline, but the agenda must be agreed at Bali. Among the areas the new deal is expected to
cover are mitigation (including avoided deforestation), adaptation, technology and financing. What is clear
is that industrialized countries must continue to take the lead in emission reductions, in accordance
with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
Although developing countries are understandably reluctant to compromise their chances of achieving better
standards of living for the poor, action on climate change need not threaten economic development. Incentives
must be offered to encourage developing countries to go the extra green mile and implement clean
technologies, and could also help minimize emissions from deforestation.
Some of the most vulnerable countries of the world have contributed the least to climate change, but are
bearing the brunt of it. Developing countries, in particular, need to adapt to the effects of climate change.
Adaptation and mitigation efforts must therefore go hand in hand. Funding made available for adaptation needs
to be supplementary to resources already committed to helping developing countries move out of poverty and
achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
A new climate deal will provide the opportunity to speed up the transfer of clean technologies and adaptation
technologies, thereby opening up new business opportunities. The burgeoning carbon market is already paving
the way for a cost-effective transition to a low-emission economy in developed countries, while mobilizing
resources needed to provide incentives to developing countries.
The benchmark for success
A new international climate deal that addresses the interests of both developed and developing countries will
make everyone a winner. The world is now watching and waiting for results. If a decision to launch
negotiations is taken, if an agenda for negotiations is agreed, and if an end-date for completing
negotiations is set, then Bali will have been a success. Anything short of that will constitute a failure.
The spirit of Bali lies in the appreciation of its people for “Ibu Pertiwi” (mother earth) and
also in the principle of collectivity. In this spirit, we must take a collective step forward.