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Disentangling the confusion of Bali

Tom Friedman is very confused about exactly what happened at Bali and why. So are M.I.T. science journalist fellows. So what are your chances of figuring it out? Well, they are a lot better if you read this excellent Bali debriefing by my friend Holmes Hummel, a Stanford Ph.D. and Congressional Science Fellow.

One interesting point she makes: Some media coverage left the misimpression that the Bush team opposed language that would have committed Annex I (i.e. rich) countries to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 25–40% below 1990 levels by 2020. But that isn’t correct. The language they vehemently rejected merely said this:

Recognizing that much deeper emissions cuts by developed countries will be required and that Parties to the Kyoto Protocol are considering the indicative range of emission reductions of Annex I Parties as a group of 25–40% below 1990 levels by 2020…

Yes, that’s right, the Bush team simply “did not want to ‘recognize’ what the Kyoto Parties clearly were considering.” Sad. So what happened?

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Ultimately, the Bali Action Plan recognized that “much deeper emissions cuts by developed countries will be required to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention”, and included a footnote reference to a page number in an IPCC Technical Summary that advises:

“Under most equity interpretations, developed countries as a group would need to reduce their emissions significantly by 2020 (10–40% below 1990 levels) and to still lower levels by 2050 (40–95% below 1990 levels) for low to medium stabilization levels (450–550ppm CO2-eq).”

Nice job, Holmes.

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