Lengthy and sometimes contentious talks at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Bali, Indonesia, have produced a roadmap that outlines a timeline, process, and scope for reaching agreement on a new global climate change treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. This is a tremendous advance in the world's response to the greatest environmental threat of our era, and a challenge and opportunity for all of us to make it work for the benefit of our planet and our children.
There are no losers in the Bali Roadmap agreement, but there is considerable work left to be done. The agreement frames negotiations over the next two years on a broad range of strategies and policies to confront climate change. The result brings us further along than anticipated on some critical issues, especially strategies aimed at Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) in developing countries and helping the most vulnerable nations and populations adapt to a changing planet.
CI's top goal for the Bali Roadmap was achieved with the inclusion of REDD as one of several mitigation strategies in the negotiations on a post-Kyoto treaty. The advances on this critical topic far exceeded initial expectations. The agreement says governments will consider proposals to compensate developing nations for protecting their tropical forests, which would likely include a mechanism offering tradable credits for the atmospheric carbon they store. Such a mechanism is expected to be worth hundreds of millions and potentially billions of dollars as carbon credits increase in value.
An accompanying document to the agreement encourages governments to take action now to protect their forests. These actions will benefit the planet while the new agreement is negotiated, and also will play a critical role in furthering scientific and methodological understanding to support REDD policies in a final post-Kyoto treaty. CI already supports more than 20 demonstration activities underway or in development on three continents in close collaboration with governments and indigenous and local populations, and we expect to develop more in the near future.
CI commends developing nations such as Liberia, Guyana, Madagascar and Gabon for working hard to reach a comprehensive agreement on REDD and therefore play a role in global climate change abatement. Costa Rica deserves special recognition for its progressive policies on climate change mitigation and leadership role at the U.N. meeting to help create a positive result for all nations and people.
"There's still a lot of work to be done, but if we get this right, then everyone wins: tropical forests will be protected, reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and preventing the extinction of irreplaceable species; cash-poor nations will get a new source of revenue; and healthy forest ecosystems will continue to sustain indigenous and local populations," CI President Russell A. Mittermeier said of the REDD component. "After all the talk of poverty alleviation in the post-World War II era, this may finally be a mechanism that seriously addresses the huge global gap between rich and poor to move us toward greater equity."
The Bali Roadmap also brings attention to the need for greater action and financing to help manage the impacts of climate change. To support this goal, governments reached critical agreement in Bali on a governing structure for the "Adaptation Fund," which is designed to help developing nations most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change cope with rising sea levels, more severe drought and other climatic phenomenon.
Thanks in part to the wise guidance of the host delegation from Indonesia, a possible impasse at the Bali talks was averted by a compromise on target figures for reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions in coming decades. Throughout the talks, the Indonesian government continued to highlight a commitment to the biodiversity component of the climate issue as the foundation for healthy ecosystems that sustain all life on Earth by holding several low-key but highly visible events on species threatened with extinction including the Sumatran orangutan, Bali starling, and Olive Ridley and green sea turtles.
"We are grateful to President Yudhoyono and his nation for their hospitality, and especially recognize his great leadership, his commitment, and his constant personal involvement during this historic meeting," Mittermeier said.