Post by Kelly Blynn, Step It Up 2007

Around the world, an estimated 10,000 bureaucrats, ministers, activists, climate skeptics, industry lobbyists, and students are packing their bags and making last-minute preparations for their descent upon the small Indonesian island of Bali, for two weeks of hashing it out on what the world’s going to do next on the issue of global warming.

Anyone who has anything (good or bad) to do with this problem will be there — whether it’s Greenpeace, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Confederation of European Paper Industries, the World Coal Association, or … me, a Step It Up organizer.

So where do we stand on the eve of this important moment? In the past few weeks, official reports have confirmed what we’ve known for a long time: climate change is happening, it’s increasingly worse than we thought, and it’s going to hurt the poor and disadvantaged first and hardest. To hammer this point home, Cyclone Sidr — a poster child of global warming — hit Bangladesh just a few days before the IPCC’s synthesis report was released.

In the face of all this gloomy news, there are bound to be some who still refuse to, for lack of a better phrase, step it up. The Bush administration, a long-time stumbling block at the world negotiating table, announced a few days ago its official delegation to the conference, none of whom seem poised to bring the U.S. to a leadership position on global warming (you can Wikipedia their names for yourself). The leaders of the delegation will be Paula Dobriansky, the under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs, who represented the U.S. at COP12 in Nairobi last year and staunchly defended the Bush administration’s calls for voluntary measures and refusal to ratify Kyoto. Also in attendance will be Harlan Watson, long-time negotiator for the U.S., friend of the oil industry, and an expert in delay tactics.

But don’t despair too much. There will be plenty of other U.S. delegates in Bali to let the world know we stand with them, and that we’ll do our best to get our country back to the table. We’ve witnessed an incredible year in this movement here in the U.S., which has been extremely exciting. We’ve still got a long way to go in this country, but simultaneously we’ve got to begin work internationally — we don’t have much time. It’s hard to tell what exactly will come out of these meetings, but the youth in attendance know what the priorities are, even if the delegates don’t yet.

A few of our Step It Up crew and other youth in Bali will be helping to keep you apprised right here on Gristmill of the goings-on, so stay tuned. For more dispatches, be sure to keep tabs on the youth climate blog, It’s Getting Hot in Here, and Bali Buzz. See you in Bali!