Cutting a Climate Deal

What the big players want at the upcoming talks on global warming

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The science has been settled. Now we have to do something about global warming. From Dec. 3 to 14 on the island of Bali, environmental ministers will meet to try to hash out the start of a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. The world will be represented, but the shape of any deal will be decided by a few major carbon emitters.

U.S.

President George W. Bush has long been against Kyoto and any form of mandatory carbon-emissions cuts, making the U.S. a roadblock at past U.N. climate meetings. But a Democratic Congress and increasing green action at the local level could mean a more cooperative U.S. at Bali.

European Union

Supporters of Kyoto, the E.U. nations have worked aggressively to control their greenhouse-gas emissions and have even established a carbon market. E.U. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas will look to establish hard caps on carbon emissions--at least for developed nations--as part of any deal.

China

The bad news: China is set to break all records on greenhouse gases, yet its leaders refuse to consider emissions caps. The good news: they might be willing to adopt some lesser limits, like mandatory improvements in energy efficiency.

India

Like Beijing, New Delhi insists that since developing countries have just begun putting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, they shouldn't be required to accept mandatory limits. Unfortunately, the vast majority of future carbon will come from developing countries, but don't expect India--where only half the nation is on the grid--to budge.

Source: International Energy Agency