The political left and the diplomats are celebrating but the reasons for the 'party' are not clear. The UN themselves see the 'Bali roadmap' as an opportunity to negotiate, with perhaps a heightened sense of urgency, up to 2009.
But the outcomes from the actual Bali talks seem to be close to nil - the substance of the negotiations remains to be done. No plan and no fixed emission targets although there does seem to be an agreement to seek an agreement by 2009 when President Bush won't be there.
The pressure by the US on developing countries to cut emissions as part of an overall deal seems to have been removed by opposition from sanctimonious developing countries such as China and Indonesia (first and third worst carbon emitters on the planet) who are some of the globe's worst environmental vandals. Developed countries are obliged to help undeveloped countries meet costless, 'no regret' options and, there is acceptance by China, of the need to pursue emissions-cutting actions that are “measurable, reportable and verifiable".
Frankly this is pathetically vague and repudiates only the stronger parts of the US arguments (which correctly insist on the need for developing countries to be part of a global treaty) while leaving other less desirable aspects of US climate change policy untouched.
I am not strong on the language and nuances of international political agreements - on this occasion I would be happy to be corrected and a more optimistic gloss painted on the 'Bali roadmap' than I can detect. It sounds to me like a close to a zero outcome.
The diplomats would have failed had they not produced some sort of agreement - they have delivered a void that needs to be renegotiated.
Under the heading 'A big win for the planet, and others', John Quiggin's assessment is that the Bali talks are a huge victory for Kevin Rudd:
'But for the first time, we can be reasonably hopeful that the people of the world will act to avoid the worst of the impending ecological catastrophe of climate change'.
John's comments on Rudd are clearly wrong - Rudd has ratified a symbolic Kyoto agreement but in other respects just mimicked John Howard. On John's other views I hope I am wrong but the claim he makes seems to be unwarranted optimism rather than anything specific that come out of the negotiations. Maybe the 'sense of urgency' or some other intangible I did not discern from the meetings is a narrow positive. None of the tough decisions, however, that need to be made have been made. The developing countries (China, India, Brazil, Indonesia) need to commit to costly climate change control measures which will impact on their economic growth and all developed countries need to commit to specific targets.