Emotions runs high, stalled talks resume


UN climate chief Yvo de Boer has just walked out of a plenary meeting of ministers in Bali in tears. The secretariat was asked by China why the country had to make two points of order today because meetings were scheduled simultaneously, making attendance at both impossible.

Mr de Boer began his reponse several times, each time having to break off as emotion overtook him, before explaining that the secretariat had not been aware of the situation. Thereupon he hurried out of the room.

Emotions are running high in Bali. After convening in plenary this morning to approve a draft road map to a post-2012 climate agreement, ministers were forced to adjourn their meeting before lunch when India opposed the draft. India wanted to change the wording of planned emission reduction actions for the developing world.

China requested the plenary to be suspended and entered into consultations with the G77. For the last few hours ministers and officials outside this group loitered in the corridors waiting for the plenary to resume. Rumours swirled that issues other than the Indian proposal remained unresolved. Flights were again changed.

Eventually, the plenary resumed just before 2pm. Indonesia’s president gave an impassioned speech reminding delegates of their commitment to a breakthrough on climate change. UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon followed, speaking along similar lines. Both received standing ovations.

Following Mr de Boer’s apology to China, business resumed. As I write, the US has reversed its initial opposition to the Indian proposal, earning a standing ovation to replace earlier booing. Many countries are also supporting a proposal tabled by Bangladesh that seeks to introduce for developing countries, as already exists for developed countries, a clause saying mitigation actions will take into account national circumstances.

“We are very, very close to the agreement we are all seeking,” says the Indonesian conference chair. It’s 2:30pm.

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