The first round of negotiations has ended here in Bali, and with civil servants hitting the beaches and ministers taking their place at the negotiating table, a clear line of scrimmage has emerged in the form of a draft text released on Saturday. It famously calls for industrialized nations to slash their emissions to levels anywhere between 25% and 40% below 1990 by the year 2020, with a binding agreement being hammered out in Copenhagen in 2009. In a nod to the United States, the draft says that developing nations will have to up their efforts as well, but is less concrete on their role. The US delegation, however, challenged the target on Monday, with chief negotiator Harlan Watson deriding any numbers as arbitrary and not conducive to proper negotiations. US Senator John Kerry reiterated the US position that the Senate, even under Democratic control, won't sign on to a global regime that lets the developing world keep developing as it has done so far. He added, however, that the US would take the lead in promoting technology transfer to the developing world so that they can develop cleanly – even as UN climate chief Yvo de Boer pointed out that China is building at least one coal-fired power plant per week. Delegates have dubbed the draft "25-40/2020", and three different options have emerged for how to proceed to 2009 – by which time the United States will be under new leadership. The first option, so far advocated only by Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, calls for informal dialogue between now and 2009. The second two options call for more structured negotiations by all parties, but the distinctions between option two and option three are fuzzy to say the least. Either way, even the United States, Japan, and Canada have thrown their support behind moving forward with real negotiations towards 2009.
With rumors of more detailed proposals flying and crashing throughout the day, it's difficult to know what to report and what not to report – but anyone interested in following events blow by blow will find two good sources here: David Steven has been blogging the event for OpenDemocracy.net, and offers an extremely readable chronicle of the political developments: www.globaldeal.opendemocracy.net The Climate Action Network has been keeping them honest with their daily press briefings, offering insight into the nitty-gritty of which clauses and sub-paragraphs are being manipulated by whom, but their blog is far less structured than the one cited above. Their daily press briefings, however, are streamed at http://172.17.17.204/2007/index.asp?go=05071211. Steve Zwick is a regular contributor to the Ecosystem Marketplace. He may be reached at steve.zwick at gmail.com.