The nations of the world agreed to a roadmap for hammering out the successor to the Kyoto Protocol this weekend, after a theatrical show of frustration aimed at the United States.
The Bush Administration delegation had blocked a central piece of the roadmap, an agreement that industrialized nations should cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25-40% by 2050. The U.S. had witnessed a rising tide of animosity as it stubbornly stuck to its position that numbers like that should be discussed in the coming negotiations, not at the outset.
The boos turned to applause when the U.S. dropped its opposition to the treaty, allowing the world to stand united, if only on paper and if only in agreement to talk more about the many details.
The most important part of the Bali negotiations is the agreement to a timetable. By 2009, the world will have another global warming treaty, to be implemented when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. It will have more provisions for helping developing nations stop deforestation, and for sharing technology, and it will involve new reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized nations.
And, for the first time, there's a reservoir of good will that might help the next U.S. president play a more productive role.
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