AT the time of writing one UK newspaper's web site says that an agreement is imminent at the global warming/climate change conference in Bali while another's says that UN Secretary General Ban KI-Moon is returning to Bali to help save the conference. My guess is that compromise wording will be found for the key point of contention between the United States and the European Union on setting a target for reductions in carbon emissions by a determined date. The EU wants 25-40 per cent cuts in 2000 levels by 2020; the US wants a commitment to an unspecified cut by 2050. The compromise proposed by Indonesia's environment minister, Rachat Witeolar, would say that emissions should be reduced by at least half of 2000 levels by 2050. That compromise makes sense: if the 2050 target is half the 2000 levels then by a midway point in 2020 cuts would have to be somewhere in the EU's range of 25-40 per cent. In addition and importantly, the compromise would keep the United States in play for the detailed negotiations that lie ahead during the next two years for a treaty to take effect in 2009. Speaking to the conference on Thursday Al Gore pointed out that in just over a year there will be a new US President and administration that may have a more positive view on targets and timing. Let's hope he's right.
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