Kyoto, the far-reaching agreement reached in 1997 intended to reduce global carbon emissions, is nothing compared to what could be coming next as the world's governments confront the ecological damage from global warming and debate what needs to be done to fix it.
The fourth and final UN report on climate change, due Saturday, is expected to emphasize that the warming of the planet is "unequivocal" and that humans are the main cause. That report will act as a blueprint for the next crucial round of climate talks starting next month in Bali, Indonesia.
The Bali talks will set the groundwork for the successor to the Kyoto treaty, which expires in 2012. They will also guide global climate policy for at least the next decade, and dictate the types of long-term investment decisions made by big industries and utilities.
Scientists say up to an 85 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions is needed to head off potential catastrophic changes that could lead to more floods and famine. How to best achieve those cuts is where the fight begins.
Backed by the strong language in the new United Nation's report, some will argue for mandatory caps on carbon dioxide emissions, which could be expensive for big carbon emitters, such as utilities, and seen by some as barriers to development....MORE