Feb 012008

The picture drawn by the media of the main protagonists at the UN conference on climate change in Bali was reminiscent of Sergio Leone’s famous spaghetti western. In one corner of the stand-off, a tenacious and uppity Europe, convinced that she will succeed. Then there was America, with her presumptuous plan to either get her own say or obstruct everyone else’s. And finally, China. Recently declared the world’s number one greenhouse gas emitter, she insisted on her right to pollute even more in the future. It was a boring picture, one we have seen all too often in the past. Until the very last day, the Bali summit was only the newest episode in a showdown habitually played out at yearly climate conferences: The European Union tries to provide leadership but cannot do it on its own, while the United States and China remain stuck in their regular gridlock ritual, both unwilling to take responsibility for their share of the problem. This year’s climate conference, however, took a dramatic turn: the script was changed so that, at least this season, the perennial tragedy ended on a positive note. FACET Commentary No. 6

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