It took only about 100 years to nail down the case for global warming and that humans are chiefly to blame. Now that culpability has been established, with the release of the first section of the scientific assessment by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world must focus on the hard part: actually doing something about it. In April and May the ipcc will release the next two parts of its War and Peace size assessment, which will deal respectively with the impact of climate change and ways to mitigate it.
That next step will be up for debate at the 13th annual U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will be held on the Indonesian resort island of Bali in December. In recent years these meetings have been exercises in frustration and futility, thanks largely to developed countries like the U.S. and Australia and developing countries like India and China teaming up to frustrate attempts to forge a meaningful post-Kyoto Protocol consensus. But this year will be different, and not just because two weeks in Bali should put the delegates in a more mellow frame of mind. In February representatives from the G-8 nations along with the larger developing countries met in Washington and agreed on the importance of all nations cutting carbon emissions crucially including China and India, both of which were exempt from the Kyoto Protocol. The next phase still needs to be shaped, but a truly international carbon market is likely in the works. The stage is set for a climate change summit that could be more fruitful than the 12 meetings that preceded it combined.