The Bali talks were finalised back in December 2007 with a last minute agreement following a U-turn by the United States, which had been holding out for firmer commitments from developing countries.
Precise targets were not set, however the so called ‘Bali roadmap’ initiates a two year process of negotiation to develop and agree a new set of emissions targets to replace those in the Kyoto Protocol.
The EU had pressed for a commitment that industrialised nations should commit to cuts of 25-40% by 2020, but this was opposed by a bloc containing the US, Canada and Japan.
The final text does not mention specific emissions targets, but acknowledges that deep cuts in global emissions will be required to achieve the ultimate objective of avoiding dangerous climate change.
It also says that a delay in reducing emissions will make severe climate impacts more likely.
The EU has now acted on this by setting out ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse emissions by 2020.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has given details of what he has called a "detailed roadmap" in the struggle against climate change.
He told the European Parliament that Europeans wanted "a vision and a plan of action".
Mr Barroso said the aim would be a 20% cut in the EU's greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, which could rise to 30% with an international deal.
He said work had to be begin to cut global emissions in half by 2050.
And he said Europe could lead the way.
"Europe can be the first economy for the low-carbon age," he said.
It is good news that targets have been set within the EU so quickly following the Bali agreement. There will be those who think the targets are not ambitious enough, and plenty who think it will have negative impacts on trade and the EU economy. The two sides can argue all they like over whether the target is too high or too low. It will make little difference.
38 Governments from around the globe agreed at Bali to commit to national binding targets for reducing emissions and this will help to lead the way with that process. Admittedly there are the other 150 countries that were represented at Bali who still need to be persuaded. If the EU can take competent steps to meet the new targets, perhaps some of these countries will be persuaded to commit as well.
The question is : “can it be done”?
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