Nations Plot Modest Climate Goals at Bali Talks Representatives of the world's nations have gathered in Bali, Indonesia, to plan how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions after the Kyoto agreement expires. There is growing optimism that the conference will be able to reach its very modest goals.

Nations Plot Modest Climate Goals at Bali Talks

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Next big stop for Al Gore, the United Nations climate talks in Bali, Indonesia. More than 10,000 people representing nearly every country are there already. Gore is one of the many other dignitaries who have yet to arrive. He heads there on Wednesday.

NPR's Richard Harris is already in Bali. And he reports that there is growing optimism that this conference on climate change will reach its very modest goals.

RICHARD HARRIS: The Kyoto climate talks started 10 years ago this week. Kyoto's ambitious emissions reduction targets are supposed to be reached in a five-year span from 2008 to 2012. And the big question has been hanging - what will happen after 2012? That's where Bali comes in. The hope is that the meetings here will jumpstart a rather lethargic climate negotiation.

The U.S. is the world's largest emitter, and because it did not sign on to the Kyoto treaty, the rest of the industrialized world is reluctant to move forward on its own. But now in Bali, many governments are optimistic that the more casual discussions of the past few years will turn back into real negotiations.

Even the United States' representative, Harlan Watson, says he is in favor of leaving Bali with an agreement to go ahead and negotiate a deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. European governments would like to see real numbers in the negotiating committee's marching orders, for example, a goal to prevent more than three and a half degrees of warming globally or an emissions cut of 25 to 40 percent by 2020.

But Watson said no.

Mr. HARLAN WATSON (Senior Climate Negotiator, State Department): Our principal difficulty with having any numbers in the text to begin with that might prejudge outcomes. We're looking for text that I think is going to be short to the point that it's not going to, that's it's going to be balanced, taking into consideration the needs of all parties.

HARRIS: And though the conference organizers and many other countries would hope to see more, at this point, people seem to be willing to settle for a promise to go ahead with honest-to-goodness negotiations over the next two years. At that point, the next U.S. administration would be on hand to seal the deal.

Richard Harris, NPR News, Bali.

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