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Environment ministers to meet in Indonesia

by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) Oct 22, 2007
Ministers and senior officials from around 40 countries are to hold informal talks in Indonesia this week aimed at setting the stage for a global climate change summit on Bali later this year.

The three-day meeting beginning Tuesday in the hill town of Bogor outside Jakarta will bring together diplomats from key carbon-emitting nations to test the waters for more substantive talks in Bali, officials here said.

The 11-day Bali summit, which kicks off on December 3, is tasked with creating a roadmap for negotiations on a global deal on climate change to come into force after the first stage of the UN's Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.

This week's meeting is not aimed at reaching resolutions, but participants will discuss an Indonesian paper outlining a range of proposals for the next framework, said Agus Purnomo, an adviser to Indonesia's environment minister.

These would span from zero emissions reductions through to dramatic and binding emissions caps, he said, adding however that the conference "is only a discussion among friends, we are not asking for consensus."

"This is an informal session so people will run through the ideas and the issues so they will be prepared for Bali," he said.

Hans Virolme, the director of environment lobby WWF's global climate change campaign, said he was confident that the nations attending the meeting could be persuaded to commit in writing to pursuing significant emissions reductions.

WWF is calling for industrialised nations to reduce their 1990 levels by 30 percent by 2020.

"My expectation is by the end of next week there will be a draft... that outlines the framework for the Bali decision," Virolme told AFP.

Present at the Bogor meet will be representatives from the United States and Australia, neither of which have ratified Kyoto.

They remain opposed to mandatory emissions reductions and argue that a framework for tackling climate change should include emissions cuts by rapidly industrialising nations such as China.

Verolme said he believed the two nations would fall into line with the 30 percent cut proposal next week.

"I think they will do the sensible thing and not stand in the way of negotiations, and if I read public opinion correctly (then) in two years those countries will join the global consensus" of pursuing binding cuts in carbon emissions by industrialised nations, he said.

Indonesia's Purnomo said the paper being presented by Jakarta would also contain a proposal for a scheme to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation in developing countries, but he declined to give details.

Indonesia is home to some of the world's largest remaining tracts of rainforest, but deforestation and fires mean it is the world's third largest carbon emitter.

Jakarta has spearheaded the formation of a group of 11 countries home to a majority of the world's rainforests, which will negotiate to achieve a joint position on forest preservation and how it fits with fighting climate change.

The Bogor meeting will be closed-door, with a press conference at the conclusion.

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Tiny Pacific islands say climate change threatens survival
Nuku'Alofa (AFP) Oct 15, 2007
Some of the world's most vulnerable island nations appealed Monday for action to halt climate change that could cause them to disappear beneath the Pacific Ocean.

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