The news from Bali:

  • When the U.S. Senate Environment Committee approved a bill calling for a mandatory cap in U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, some in Bali took it as a sign that the U.S. was budging on its intractable opposition to said emissions cuts. U.S. climate negotiator Harlan Watson: “We’re not changing our position.” However, one environmental activist did tell reporters, “We’re not seeing overly obstructive behavior by the U.S., and we hope that trend continues.”
  • Eleven House committee chairfolk wrote a letter to U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer, hoping to ensure delegates that “President Bush’s avoidance of action is not the status quo here in America.”
  • Officials estimate that delegates’ and activists’ flights to Bali contributed as much CO2 to the atmosphere as 20,000 cars would in a year. Some nations plan to offset their impact.
  • Delegates discussed ways to address deforestation, particularly by using standing trees as carbon offsets.
  • Australian officials reportedly gave the thumbs-up to a proposal of countries cutting emissions 25 to 40 percent by 2020, but new Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that his government did not support binding emissions cuts.
  • Carbon capture was discussed with enthusiasm, but de Boer told reporters, “I do not expect a decision at this conference on the inclusion of carbon capture and storage [in an agreement]. I think further analytical work has to be done.” Big surprise.
  • China wants developed nations to share renewable-energy technology with the developing world at reduced costs. The U.S. ain’t into that idea. Chinese official: “We are dealing with something related to public good. It’s a trade-off between intellectual-property rights and climate protection.” American official: “We do not support a technology-transfer fund that would buy down intellectual-property rights.”
  • Japan is playing diplomat: “The E.U. and U.S. positions are far apart, so we want to make a bridge between them. We would like to make this meeting successful.” Wouldn’t we all.