From: Alana Herro, Worldwatch Institute, More from this Affiliate
Published December 31, 2007 11:42 AM

Cities, Countries Make Up for What Bali Lacked

Source: Worldwatch Institute

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, early this month received criticism from some for failing to produce a stronger international plan to address greenhouse gas emissions once the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. “We said we needed a roadmap,” Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth told the BBC, “but this conference has failed to give us a clear destination.” To offset further delay, some countries and many local governments have taken the lead and committed to hefty carbon-reduction schemes ahead of a formalized international plan.

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Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Norway each fleshed out plans to become carbon neutral on December 12 at the Bali event. Costa Rica, arguing that a climate-neutral economy is also a competitive one, aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2021, the 200th anniversary of the country’s independence. The government intends to facilitate a switch to electric and hybrid vehicles and to capture methane from landfills and wastewater treatment plants for use as fuel. Farm-rich New Zealand is targeting research to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, including methane from livestock. And Erik Solheim, Norway’s Minister of Environment and Development, announced that his country will pursue vigorous energy savings and efficiency measures to achieve sustainability.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, reaffirmed the importance of having a strong international emissions reduction program in place by 2012. “However, it [is] also clear that some countries are voluntarily and already prepared to go that extra mile,” he said. “And it is not just countries but a growing and widening group of companies, cities, and individual citizens who are also looking to their carbon footprints with a view to working towards climate neutrality.”

Local governments from around the world also announced their commitments to combating global warming on December 12 in Bali. Noting that more than half the world’s people now live in urban areas, and more than two-thirds are projected to inhabit cities by 2030, a group led by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) called on national governments to reduce worldwide emissions by 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. In a show of leadership, more than 600 cities, towns, counties, and villages committed to that target, as well as to such goals as building sustainable energy economies, advocating for local government representation at international climate talks, and executing climate change adaptation strategies.

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