Sunday, December 16, 2007


Andrew Rivkin has a great idea of building an archive of many voices from Bali. I was glad to see him include Newman's letter from Bali which is titled "The Mask Maker" and is comment #3 at today's DOT EARTH. Thanks Newm for the on-the-spot insights and thanks Andrew for running a different kind of view.

The general drift of reactions have expressed disillusionment with the way the European Union caved in on setting firm targets for reducing CO2 emissions and almost everyone focused on the obstructionist role played by the US.

There was general agreement that the moment of highest drama came as Kevin Conrad, Papua New Guinea's ambassador for climate change, confronted the US.

Peter Riggs of the Forum on Democracy and Trade, gave the following account:

And then it was the turn of the United States. Assistant Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, with only the absolute bare minimum of diplomatic language, stated flatly that the United States rejected the changes. It was not prepared to accept the G-77 text.

Then occurred one of the most remarkable sounds that has perhaps ever been heard in the annals of international diplomacy—like a collective global groan—descending then to a murmer, then increasing in volume to a full-throated expression of rage and anger and booing and jeering, lasting for a full minute, so that finally the Minister had to call the meeting back to order.

Then the backlash began. South Africa’s representative, with great eloquence, noted that the U.S. statement was ‘most unwelcome’ and ‘without basis.’ ... Referring to redrafts from earlier in the week, Brazil noted that the EU and China and the G77 had gone along with most of the amendments offered by the U.S.—they had not blocked progress. ... Tanzania stated the situation flatly: “the United States has the power, and that is the power to wreck the progress made thus far.”

Casting all diplomatic niceties to the winds, the representative from Papua New Guinea stood up and said: “if you’re not willing to lead, please get out of the way.”

A pause. A lull. ...

Dobriansky signals she wishes to speak, and Witoelar calls on the United States.

”We are heartened by the strong commitments made by the major developing countries here at Bali,”

And then: “The United States will join the consensus” regarding the proposed compromise text.

A surge of emotion through the hall, and then a collective sigh of relief. No standing ovation, no cheering—but a sustained, respectful applause.

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