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Climate talks brought back from the brink, but lacking substance

The climate agreement finalised in Bali today has been stripped of the emission reduction targets that science and humanity demands, Greenpeace said today.

Bali (Indonesia), 15 December 2007

In the face of unprecedented and open criticism on the floor of the UN, the US was forced to back down from causing complete collapse of the meeting.

Nevertheless, the Bush Administration's underhand tactics have left the Bali Mandate omitting any reference to the crucial cuts required to stop climate change and relegated the science to a footnote.

"The Bush Administration has unscrupulously taken a monkey wrench to the level of action on climate change that the science demands," said Gerd Leipold, Executive Director of Greenpeace International. "They've relegated the science to a footnote."

In a year when the Nobel prize-winning IPCC clearly laid out the unacceptable impacts of unchecked climate change, this week also saw the news that the Arctic could see ice-free summers within five to six years, and scientists said 2007 was the seventh hottest year in history.

Greenpeace remains confident that mounting public pressure on every continent will force governments over the next two years to agree the inevitable deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions science demands. Germany has already set the example by announcing it would cut its own emissions by 40% by 2020.

"Governments must continue to stand up to this lame-duck US President with his malicious agenda. Industrialised nations must now immediately set ambitious targets to cut emissions, forging ahead on a national and international level, confident that soon a new US Administration will be in place."

"The Bush Administration was humbled and shamed by the firm resolve of the developing countries China, India, Brazil, South Africa - who came to Bali with concrete proposals to play their fair share in global efforts to prevent dangerous climate change.

What they got was a dirty strategy by Bush to challenge all the issues most important to the millions who are already suffering from the impacts of climate change," said Ailun Yang of Greenpeace China.

The final agreement includes a mandate to negotiate a strengthened second phase of the Kyoto Protocol by 2009, start a process to finance and deliver clean technologies to developing countries, and a fund to help the victims of climate change.

For the first time, the UNFCCC will address the outstanding problem of the of 20% the world's global emissions from deforestation.

Greenpeace welcomed the first steps towards achieving reductions in deforestation emissions, which will protect both the climate and forests. However, forest loss is dramatic - every two seconds an area of forest the size of a football pitch is being destroyed.

Governments could have done a lot more to reflect this urgency. There is still much to be done before deforestation is effectively addressed.

This meeting advanced the issues of helping people to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and support in moving to clean technologies more than anyone expected. As a result, money will finally start to flow to the most vulnerable.

However, the money agreed at Bali is peanuts compared to adaptation needs and the trillions required for a true energy revolution are nowhere to be seen. Developed countries came with nothing substantial to offer on these issues. This has to change if we want to stop even more suffering and a polluting energy development path.

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