Bali Climate Conference Ends With Compromise

KWAME HOLMAN: It was only after 11th-hour negotiations this weekend in Bali that delegates from 187 countries agreed to a roadmap for a new climate change treaty over the next two years. The two weeks of talks often were contentious and emotional, with much of the displeasure directed at the United States.

MARTHINUS VAN SCHALKWYK, Head of South African Delegation: The reference by the representative of the United States to developing countries, not excepting their full responsibilities, is most unwelcome and without any basis.

KWAME HOLMAN: The Bush administration refused to accept a plan backed by Europe and many other countries calling for all industrialized nations to cut their own greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020.

PAULA DOBRIANSKY, Head of U.S. Delegation: We would like to find a way forward here. We are not prepared to accept, though, this formulation at this time.

MODERATOR: Thank you, thank you, United States. May I continue? Thank you.

KWAME HOLMAN: Canada and Japan also were opposed to mandatory cuts, but the sharpest rhetoric was directed at the U.S.

KEVIN CONRAD, Head of Papua New Guinea Delegation: And I would ask the United States, we ask for your leadership, we seek your leadership, but if for some reason you're not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please, get out of the way.

KWAME HOLMAN: There also was criticism from former Vice President Al Gore.

AL GORE, Former Vice President of the United States: My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali. We all know that. We all know that.

KWAME HOLMAN: The U.S., which is the world's leading greenhouse gas emitter, ahead of China, Russia and India, eventually agreed to compromise.

Under the Bali road map deal, the delegates essentially agreed to negotiate a treaty by 2009. The agreement says significant cuts in emissions will be required of industrialized countries, but does not specify the size of those cuts or whether they will be mandatory.

PAULA DOBRIANSKY: The United States is very committed to this effort and just wants to really ensure that we all will act together. So with that, Mr. Chairman, let me say to you that we will go forward and join consensus in this today.

KWAME HOLMAN: China and other developing countries also agreed for the first time to consider controlling the growth of their emissions, but that promise, too, came without any binding commitments.

Industrialized countries also agreed to provide developing nations with economic and technological aid to slow deforestation.

For now, the U.S. stands alone as the only major industrialized country to reject the Kyoto agreement on climate change, which is set to expire in 2012. But Congress is nearing approval of an energy bill that would include raising fuel standards for passenger vehicles for the first time in 30 years. It would require a fleet-wide average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.